When is a tax increase not a tax increase? Alpharetta is increasing its general operations and maintenance millage rate, but also decreasing its general obligation bonds millage rate by the same amount.
So if your house was assessed the same in the notice recently sent by Fulton County as it was last year, your city taxes won't increase. If, like me, your assessment dropped, your city taxes will be lower. But any homeowner with a higher property assessment will pay more in taxes.
How much did your property assessment go up or down? Tell your neighbors in the comments below. (Want to talk about it for a story? Contact me by email or call me at 678-451-8995.)
Karen Drive resident Don Nahser asked, "This milage rate, is it the same or less than it has been in the past?"
Finance Director Tom Harris said, "The millage rate is flat from last year."
That concerned Nahser, who continued his questions by asking if the city would be operating in a deficit. He added that the city now has a $40,000 homestead exemption.
"Absolutely not," said Mayor David Belle Isle.
Nahser gave the city his stamp of approval on that note, saying, "You guys are doing a good job."
Councilman Chris Owens explained the millage rate shift by saying "Basically, we are paying for things that we should be paying for rather than borrowing money to pay for them."
Millage Rate (on 40% of each $1,000.00 of taxable property)
General Government $4.820 0.605
General Obligation bonds $0.930 (0.605)
Ad Valorem Tax Rate –Total $5.75 No Change
However, Alpharetta residents in the Kimball Bridge and Windward areas, among others, have been noting property assessment increases, some in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The city doesn't even have a final tax digest from Fulton County on which to base its budget and millage rate. It is using estimates and past experiences–and sticking to a conservative approach–in developing a city budget.
Councilman D.C. Aiken said his neighborhood has seen 35-40 percent increases in tax assessments, despite a Fulton Tax Assessor's official telling City Council the average increase would be 6 to 8 percent.
Finance Director Tom Harris said one fourth of the current year's tax digest is still under appeal — that's $900 million worth of property value. And with a new law that allows all property owners to appeal their tax assessments, he expects even more property owners to appeal the latest assessments.
Between getting the tax digest last August to now, the city lost 4 percent in property value on which the last budget was based.