County taxes down despite budget increase

  • County taxes down despite budget increase
    County taxes down despite budget increase

Lumpkin County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a balanced 2020 budget and 2019 millage rate at last week’s BOC meeting, keeping its promise to lower taxes this year.
The county’s budget increased by about $600,000.
However, the increase does not equate to additional taxes, said County Manager Stan Kelley.
“The BOC is adopting the rollback amount as calculated by the tax commissioner to bring in the same amount of taxes in 2020 as this year,” he said.
The $600,000 comes mostly from growth in the digest. New construction amounted to $30.6 million over the past year.
“In addition to the rollback, the BOC reduced the millage rate further by taking the road maintenance dollars out of the general fund and utilizing TSPLOST [Transportation Special Local Option Sales Tax] dollars to fund road maintenance in 2020,” Kelley said.
Georgia Department of Transportation gives grants to local governments to help with repairing roads, but those local governments must expend matching funds. In Lumpkin County, those funds usually come from SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) dollars. Instead, those dollars were dedicated to development and infrastructure. This year commissioners were banking on the passage of TSPLOST to pay for the road maintenance match.
“If the TSPLOST had not passed we would have had to take the matching funds … from the general fund,” said BOC Chairman Chris Dockery.
Which would have meant the county would have had to collect additional tax dollar to put in the general fund.
The TSPLOST did pass, and the result is a reduction in property taxes while everyone in the county, land owners and renters, as well as visitors pay for road maintenance at the pump.
The county’s millage for the unincorporated area of the county is 10.053, a full mill lower than 2018’s millage. In the city, the rate is 12.132, down from 13.186 last year.
Despite the county’s effort to lower property taxes, residents could still see a higher tax bill. For the county there are Reservoir and Planning district taxes to be added in—both combined under half a mill. And there are also school taxes.
Though Lumpkin County Schools’ millage rate is down from last year, it did not incorporate the entire rollback.
In 2018 the rate amounted to 16.819. This year’s rate is down to 16.116.
Total taxes for the unincorporated area are 26.623 and for the city, 28.248.
Tax bills are going out the week of Oct. 7 and will be due just in time for Christmas—Dec. 16.
Tax Commissioner Rachel Pruitt said a glitch in the computer system caused the delay.
“But,” she said, “there’s never a good time for taxes. You’ve got vacations, back to school, Thanksgiving …”