Monday, May 22, 2023–11:06 a.m.
-David Crowder, WRGA News-
As the Floyd County Board of Education gets ready to approve the Fiscal Year 2024 budget, they wanted to know more about the recent assessments sent out by the Floyd County Board of Assessors.
Many property owners saw their assessments go up. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that a homeowner’s property tax will be going up, according to Floyd County Tax Commissioner Kevin Payne. He told the school board that the assessment is only half the equation and millage rates still have to be set. The tax bill is the assessment times the millage rate, minus any exemptions. In addition, Governor Brian Kemp has signed the Homestead Tax Relief Grant. It’s for one year only, but every homesteaded property owner is going to get, on average, $500 to $600 off their tax bill this year.
“Even though values went up, there are going to be some people who were shocked with their assessment last week who may actually not have any increase or may actually have a decrease in their tax bill,” Payne said. “They will have that $500 to $600 coming off their bill, plus there is the homestead freeze.”
Under the homestead freeze, if market values of homestead properties increase, the homestead exemption will increase in an equal amount. The frozen value stays in place until the property is sold or a new deed is filed on the property. Voters approved the homestead freeze in 2002, but neither school system had the freeze on the ballot. So, it only applies to city and county government, solid waste, and fire.
However, there are other exemptions for school taxes. For anyone over the age of 75 with an income of less than $30,000, there is no school tax on their homesteaded property. In addition, anyone over the age of 65 with a homesteaded property gets a $100,000 exemption.
Payne told the school board that a lot of the calls he is getting regarding the most recent assessments have to do with the school tax exemptions. He cited property values in Celanese as an example.
“Ten years ago you probably couldn’t find a house there for much over $100,000,” he said. “There are now homes in Celanese selling for over $200,000. A lot of those people were 100 percent exempt from the school tax. Now, they have to pay school tax because their home was valued at $100,000 five years ago and now it is $150,000.”
School board member Jay Shell expressed an interest in possibly putting the homestead freeze for county schools on the ballot while other board members asked about other possible exemptions for taxpayers. Payne asked the board to keep one thing in mind.
“The school board is still going to need the same amount of money,” he said. “Anyone who gets an exemption loves it, but the other taxpayers will have to make up the difference.”
Superintendent suggests he may recommend millage rate decrease
The county school board also got a look at the preliminary 2024 budget, which sees total expenditures of $114,300,000. That is up from $105,327,000 for FY 23.
“The reason the budget is going up is the $2,000 salary increase that certified employees are getting,” said Superintendent Glenn White. “We’re getting more money from the state to compensate for that, but that is one of the main reasons, along with the cost of health insurance.”
White added that he is not recommending any pay raises for classified employees.
“We really can’t afford to do that right now,” he said. “My explanation for that is the cost of insurance is going up $625 a month for each classified employee and that starts in January of 2024.”
The school system has to pick up the cost of that increase for classified employees.
White told the board that the millage rate will not be set until after a series of called meetings are held in July. However, he did float the idea of a millage rate decrease, saying that if he were to recommend lowering the rate from the current 17.95 to 17.70, it would be the lowest millage rate since 2003.