(the amount collected in one year applies to the following year's property taxes)
$16,062,000 collected in 2006; $13,541,000 applied in 2007 for 100% homestead exemptions coverage, with $3,278,000 left
$14,883,000 collected in 2007; $14,128,000 applied in 2008 for 100% homestead exemption coverage, with $2,521,000 left
$13,632,000 collected in 2008; $13,542,000 applied in 2009 for 80% homestead exemption coverage, with $90,000 left
$11,539,000 collected in 2009; $11,493,000 applied in 2010 for 75% homestead exemption coverage, with $46,000 left
$12,097,000 collected in 2010; $12,015,683 applied in 2011 for 82% homestead exemption coverage, with $81,317 left
Homestead exemptions claimed in Rockdale County
- Information provided by the Tax Commissioner's Office
The Board of Commissioners approved raising the property tax rate by 1.38 mils to 16.91 mills on Thursday in a 2-1 vote, with Commissioner JaNice Van Ness voting against. But with increased retail sales tax revenue and falling home values, homeowners may still see a smaller cost than last year in the county portion of their tax bill.
The one-penny sales tax known as the HOST (Homestead Option Sales Tax) collected about $12 million - about $500 million or 4.5 percent more - to apply for this year’s homestead tax exemptions than the previous year. The net digest, or total value of taxable property, fell about $218,778,000 or 8.37 percent. There are also 70 fewer homestead exemption claims, or about 0.3 percent less, in 2011 than in 2010.*
That allows about 82 percent of the county portion for a homeowner’s tax bill to be exempt this year. Last year, the HOST covered only about 75 percent.
With the increased HOST coverage and with the millage increase, owners of homes worth $100,000 to $300,000 that have seen the value of their home either stay the same or drop up to10 percent could see their bill reduced anywhere from $21 to $125.
In the called meeting on Thursday, few options other than raising the millage rate or dipping into fund balance were discussed or presented.
Finance Director Roselyn Miller said if the millage rate stayed the same at 15.53 mills, the county would collect about $3.9 million less than last year since the net digest fell about 8.7 percent in value. She said the fund balance would not be able to sustain that and the county would have to take a TAN, or tax anticipatory note, loan to maintain cash flow.
If the county increased to the rollback rate 16.91, which would collect about the same amount of taxes as last year, the county would still be short about $630,000, which would come from the county’s fund balance.
“But if we raise the millage rate today, it falls on the backs of the businesses, which are vital to our economy,” said Van Ness.
She pointed out businesses might consider not opening up in Rockdale or taking their business elsewhere. “That’s certainly not what we want to happen,” she said.
Commissioner Oz Nesbitt said, “We don’t make these decisions very lightly. There’s been a lot of dialogue, there’s been a lot of discussion. There’s usually never a perfect solution. We’re not going to please all the people all the time. You’ve elected us to make the tough decisions.”
Chairman Richard Oden said, “We’ve had to cut last year. We’ve been making some tough decisions. Today’s decision is considered a rollback.” He pointed out a new cardboard manufacturing facility would be opening, bringing 50 jobs.
“The sky is not falling,” Oden said. “We’re going to hang in there.”
Miller also said that department heads are being asked to keep spending levels to 2010 levels for their 2012 budget.
After the meeting, which lasted less than an hour, Van Ness pointed out, “They just took a vote. They didn’t really inform the public."
*Correction added Sept. 19.