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Hall County rule changes method, not result, of tax hike
County can only roll up .39 mills, not .6
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Public hearings

What: Proposed Hall County tax increase
When: 6 p.m. June 21 and noon and 6 p.m. June 30
Where: Georgia Mountains Center, 301 Main St. SW, Gainesville

Hall County commissioners are still considering a 1.41 mill increase, but the breakdown of the numbers has changed a bit.

Chairman Tom Oliver had proposed a 0.6 mill roll-up in the general fund and a 0.81 mill tax increase as a way to make up a portion of an $11.5 million deficit and avoid deep cuts in county services.

According to the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, the commission can “roll up” property tax rates to offset a decrease in the county’s tax digest because of declining property values. But the proposed roll-up included projected declines in values, which cannot be included. The county can only use the actual decrease in property value.

As a result, the roll-up can only be 0.39 mills. In order to reach the 1.41 mills needed under Oliver’s proposal, the tax increase is 1.02 mills, according to Interim Finance Director Lisa Johnsa.

This is in addition to possible changes in the fire fund millage rate, which is looking at an increase of 0.77 mills in incorporated areas excluding Gainesville and a 0.28 mill increase in unincorporated areas.

One mill equals $1 for every $1,000 in assessed value. Under the proposal, the owner of a $180,000 home would see a little more than a $100 increase in property taxes, plus the additional fire tax for residents affected by that increase.

The increase of 1.41 mills is projected to generate an additional $8 million in revenue for the county’s general fund.

Commissioners would still need to find $3.5 million in cuts to balance the budget.

Oliver said he believes many services and jobs could remain intact if the tax increase is approved.

“It’s (from) the perspective of, ‘We can’t get it all from tax increase. We need to decrease county government some, but not to the magnitude that we saw in the proposed budget,’” Johnsa said.

There will be three public hearings on the proposed tax increase: 6 p.m. June 21 and noon and 6 p.m. June 30. All three hearings will be held at the Georgia Mountains Center.

The 2012 budget and millage rate will be adopted immediately following the last hearing.

“Our fiscal year ends on June 30,” Johnsa said. “We have to have some type of budget July 1.”

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