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Why almost 5,000 tax bills will be bigger though school tax rate stays the same
GainesvilleSchoolBoardOffice

While the school tax rate may be the same for Gainesville residents as a year ago, owners of almost 5,000 properties will be paying more.

By a 3-2 vote on Monday, the Gainesville City Board of Education approved keeping the property tax rate for the 2018 fiscal year the same as last year’s 6.85 mills. The millage rate equals $1 of taxes on every $1,000 of taxable value. 

Public hearings on tax rate

When: 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Aug. 30, 6 p.m. Sept. 6

Where: Gainesville Board of Education, 508 Oak St., Gainesville

Steve Watson, chief appraiser for the Hall County Board of Tax Assessors, wrote in an email this week that a total of 5,724 of 11,054 parcels in the city of Gainesville were assessed at a higher value this year, while 1,250 parcels in the city were assessed at a lower value.

A total of 816 properties assessed at a higher value were exempted from school taxes because the owners are 70 or older. That leaves 4,908 properties in the city subject to paying more in school taxes. 

“The 4,908, those guys are going to get a property tax increase across the board period, if the millage rate stays the same, because their value went up,” Watson said.

Watson said 1,162 parcels increased in value by 5 percent or less,  2,003 properties increased in value between 5.01 percent and 22.6 percent and 1,070 increased more than than 22.60 percent. 

Watson said 448 of the properties that increased in value were new parcels with no previous value and 225 were new construction on existing property. Watson said in the email the two latter categories of parcels increased by an average of 713 percent due to the fact that “complete houses were added.”

For a $100,000 property, Watson calculated that taxes would rise by $34.25 for a 5 percent increase in value, $68.50 for 10 percent, $102.75 for 15 percent and $137 for a 20 percent increase in property value.  

For a $250,000 parcel, Watson’s numbers showed a tax increase of $85.63 for a 5 percent rise in value, $171.25 for a 10 percent increase, $256.88 for a 15 percent increase in value and $342.50 for a 20 percent rise in property value.

The school board considered four options before deciding to keep the tax rate at 6.85 mills. The three who voted to approve the tentative millage rate — Delores Diaz, Willie Mitchell and Brett Mercer — all said their votes came out of concern that a rate lower than 6.85 mills would dip too much into the school system’s fund balance.

With the 6.85 tax rate, the school district is still expecting to spend more than $3.2 million from its fund balance to balance the $70.1 million budget the board approved in June. The proposed millage rate would leave a projected fund balance of nearly $11.4 million on June 30, 2018. 

Gainesville School Superintendent Jeremy Williams said much of the increases in costs to the budget were due to state requirements for employer contributions to the Teacher Retirement System and increases in cost for employer contribution to insurance for non-teachers working in the school system. He said the district is looking carefully for ways to cut costs, citing a recent shuffling of teacher that helped the school system avoid hiring nine new employees. 

“We’re going to keep doing that throughout the year,” Williams said.

He encouraged those concerned about school taxes to attend one of three public hearings scheduled before a final vote is taken to set the tax rate Sept. 6. The meetings are at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Aug. 30 and at 6 p.m. Sept. 6

“If they’ve received a re-evaluation and are concerned about property taxes, the best way we can address it and know about it is if they show up to the hearings,” Williams said.

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