County maintains tax

By Justin Boron

Clayton County property owners whose reassessed value increased this year know now for certain their tax bills will be up from last year.

The Board of Commissioners Tuesday night formally adopted the past year's millage rate of 7.781, allowing the county to generate about $3.76 million more property taxes than last year, according to an analysis of digest values and proposed millage.

Under the adopted rate, excluding state millage, the tax bill for a $100,000 home would be $233.43.

In advertisements for the tax increase, the county said it "feels these additional revenues resulting from property tax reassessments are needed to continue to provide the current service levels of county government."

Commissioner Carl Rhodenizer defended the county's taxes as some of the lowest in the metro area.

"I don't see any way to keep them lower as anyone else," he said.

During budget hearings, the commissioners initially planned for a tax cut. But they abandoned lower rates and instead, devoted extra revenue to its less than sufficient cash reserve fund.

About $2 million will go into the fund balance as a result of keeping the same millage rate.

But the county may not get all the money it expects.

Projected revenues are contingent on collecting taxes, which could be lost, according the finance analysis.

Taxes from Delta Air Lines and Hertz, Avis, and Alamo rental car companies could be lost, the report says.

Although this was not a full reassessment year, more than 65 percent of the county property was reevaluated, said the Chief Appraiser Rodney McDaniel.

About 78 percent of the county saw an increase in value between 0 and 10 percent.

That means more than 3/4 of the county property owners will see an increase on their tax bills.

Next year the entire county will be reassessed.

Terry Baskin, the county tax commissioner, said he expects to send out between 65,000 and 80,000 tax bills by Sept. 15. The taxes would be due by Nov. 15.

Most of the meeting was spent in the dark because of a close to hour and a half long power outage in Jonesboro. Commissioners also came close to missing a quorum, with County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell unable to attend and commissioners Wole Ralph and Virginia Gray arriving from a conference in Hawaii.

Eventually Commission Vice Chairman Virginia Gray joined commissioners Rhodenizer and Charley Griswell.