Cherokee County could gain $4.5 million in new property tax revenues next fiscal year while keeping tax bills about the same, according to county officials.
During Tuesday’s meeting of the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners, Cherokee County Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Marquis presented projections for millage rates the county could consider as budget time approaches. According to the projections put forth by the finance department, the millage rates would remain at the same level as what it was in fiscal year 2021 for both the general fund (5.212 mills) and the fire fund (3.292 mills), while the parks bond rate (0.434 mills) would decrease slightly, down from 0.461 mills.
For the average homeowner with a house valued at $303,600, these projected rates would result in a tax bill of around $1,059, just over $3 lower than those sent out in 2021, due to the parks bond millage rate’s decrease.
Holding the general fund millage rate the same would result in an additional $4.5 million in property tax revenue for that specific fund, Marquis said. This increase can be attributed primarily to growth seen throughout the county over the past year. When coupled with non-property tax revenue, this helps cover the expected growth in expenditures, including hiring new employees, a 5% cost of living adjustment for public safety employees and 4% for all other county employees, while also reducing the county’s need to pull from its reserve fund. Similarly, projections showed that maintaining the same millage rate for the fire fund would allow the county to almost not have to rely on the fire fund’s reserves at all for the upcoming fiscal year.
Breaking down how property taxes collected by the county are used, nearly 74% of what is collected funds public safety (54.8%) and judicial services (19.14%). Other uses of property taxes in Cherokee County include general administration (15.9%), recreation (4.22%) and public works (3.84%), Marquis explained.
Even if the millage rate for the general and fire funds was not rolled back, the county would still have one of the lowest property tax millage rates in metro Atlanta, according to Marquis. Charts Marquis presented showed the only two counties with lower millage rates are Fayette and Forsyth, both of which have a one-cent Local Option Sales Tax that helps offset property taxes.
Marquis said he would need direction from the commissioners by June 21 as to what direction they would like to go in order for the millage rate to be advertised prior to a series of public hearings in July. The millage rate for the upcoming fiscal year will be set July 20, following public hearings on July 6 and 20.