A property tax increase is in store for Flowery Branch residents who had property reassessed at higher values this year.
The City Council voted 3-2 on final reading Thursday night to OK a tax rate of 3.264 mills to support the fiscal 2017-18 budget, which takes effect July 1. The council also voted 3-2 to approve the budget.
The tax rate is the same as it was in 2016-17, but taxes will be higher for city residents who saw their property values rise this year. For example, taxes on a home with a fair market value of $175,000 will go up $17.64, city officials have said.
The millage rate equals $1 of taxes on every $1,000 of taxable value. Properties in Flowery Branch are assessed at 40 percent of their value.
Councilmen Joe Anglin and Chris Mundy voted against the tax increase and the budget.
“There are things I like about this budget … but I do have an issue with the fact that we’re adding $50,000 (to the budget), increasing that tax on the citizens, and nobody who has voted for (the tax rate) has been able to say they’re willing to direct staff to allocate those funds to a specific purpose.
“If it’s just going to the general fund, then my vote is of the no variety.”
Council members Fred Richards, Mary Jones and Monica Beatty all voted for the tax rate.
“I support a consistent millage rate,” Richards said. “I want it to be the same millage rate next year, the year after and the year after — bad economy, good economy. … Just as when you go to the grocery store, you’re going to pay 7 percent sales tax, you’re going to pay the (consistent) rate in Flowery Branch.”
“But three years ago, Mr. Richards, you did vote to increase the millage rate by half a point,” Anglin said.
“I agree, but we were going how many years in a recession? But then, I also voted to roll it back when things got better,” Richards said.
The council approved the tax rate after holding three public hearings, which drew a handful of residents, all of whom voiced concerns.
“You get a stream of revenue in from franchise tax, from utilities, phone bills, you have insurance companies that pay tax on properties insured in the city,” Chris Hartnett said at a June 1 hearing. “Citizens are getting squeezed by big increases in the school taxes and all kinds of different fees. This increase is not needed in the millage.”
The rise in the city’s property tax digest — or list of taxable properties — is mainly due to the sale of TreePark Apartment Homes at a higher value, Finance Director Tammy Moon has said.
Of the overall increase in the tax digest, about 46 percent of it is attributable to the increase in value of TreePark, she said.
TreePark is off Thurmon Tanner Parkway between Phil Niekro Boulevard and Cantrell Road.
Mayor Mike Miller said June 1 he was concerned successful tax assessment appeals could mean even less revenue for the city. “We could vote to keep (the tax rate) at 3.264 and receive significantly less money,” he said.