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Hall County has to act to avoid a tax increase
Must lower rate to 6.356 mills to avoid avertising tax increase
Hall County Government Center

The Hall County property tax rate will have to be rolled back to 6.356 mills from the current 6.7 mills to avoid a property tax increase in the upcoming fiscal year.

It’s a hefty rollback rate for the county. The new rate was released by Hall County government on Tuesday, June 5, ahead of the Hall County Board of Commissioners budget sessions coming up later this month.

In 2017, the rollback rate would have taken the county from its tax of 5.716 to 5.501 mills — a drop of 0.215 mills. The current rollback rate is a drop of 0.344 mills, a larger reduction that comes from increasing property values in Hall County.

If you’re very confused by now, don’t worry. For property tax purposes, a single mill represents $1 of tax for every $1,000 of value. A homeowner with a house worth $200,000 with a property tax rate of 10 mills would pay $200 in tax each year.

However, there’s one more level of complexity to Hall County’s property tax: Residential property is only taxed at 40 percent of its value. Now, instead of that homeowner paying $200 in tax, he or she would pay only $80 at a tax rate of 10 mills.

So why is your tax bill so much higher than that? There are several other taxes layered on top of the county’s 6.7-mill tax.

That 6.7 mills goes to the county government’s general fund, which pays for the core of the county’s service (law enforcement, administration, finance and other operations). The county also collects a fire fund property tax to fund Hall County Fire Services and taxes some personal property.

If you live in a city, it’s almost certain that city levies its own property tax. But by far, the biggest tax rates in the county are levied by school systems. Hall County Schools is proposing a tax increase to 18.29 mills for fiscal year 2019 — a rate almost three times larger than the county’s general fund rate.

And what about the rollback rate?

The rollback rate comes from state law and is intended to account for inflation of property values over time represented by increasing tax assessments: If property values rise year over year, property owners will pay higher taxes to local government — which would reap a windfall — even if the tax rate is unchanged.

That rate is based on a formula set into state law. This year, property value assessments set by the Hall County Tax Assessor’s Office rose $411.36 million over last year.

For the 2017 fiscal year, the real property tax digest was $6.57 billion. In the 2018 fiscal year, the real property digest is $7.21 billion.

If you’ve noticed that there’s more than $411.36 million worth of difference between those numbers for 2017 and 2018 — good catch.

The county tracks “other changes to taxable digest” that this year adds up to $234.4 million. This is the new construction and other additions to the county tax digest that don’t count against the county for the rollback rate.

Now, Hall County commissioners have a few choices before them: They can cut the property tax rate to 6.356 mills and avoid being forced by state law to advertise that they’re raising taxes; they can keep the tax rate the same and go through the process of “raising taxes” on property owners; and they can outright raise the tax rate above the current 6.7 mills (as they did in 2017).

Commissioners are set to have their first public hearing on the new budget on June 21, according to Finance Director Zach Propes. A second budget presentation, when commissioners will adopt a new mill rate, is set for June 28.

This report has been updated from its original version.

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