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One more chance for county public hearings on millage rates
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Forsyth County residents had two chances on Thursday to discuss the coming year’s millage rate, though not many used the opportunity.

Two public hearings, one at 11 a.m. and another at 5 p.m., were held on July 7 for the county’s 2017 millage rate, which is expected to stay at 8.036 mills — the same rate that was approved for 2016. Only one speaker addressed the commission at either meeting.

County resident Dan Wolf, who spoke at the morning public hearing, said he was “in between” supporting and not supporting the rate but that property value assessments had not been the same in Forsyth County as in surrounding areas.

“When property values went down in the great recession, generally in the Atlanta region they, I think, they went down 30-33 percent. In Forsyth County, they went down somewhat less,” said Wolf, who said he owns several properties in the county. “Our valuations, at least in my case, went down about 7 percent.”

The millage rate is the formula that calculates property taxes. One mil equals $1 for every $1,000 in assessed property value, which is 40 percent of the actual market value.

It is expected that the county will bring in more tax digest this year due to reassessments of home values.

“There tends to be a delay in the property values changing from a recession, and likewise to recovery, whereas in sales tax we see it immediately,” said Dave Gruen, the county’s chief financial officer.

The property taxes levied this year will be 1.89 percent over the rollback millage rate.

A rollback rate means the same amount of property tax revenue will be collected as approved for the prior year.

Before both public hearings, Gruen detailed the millage rate and the 2017 budget, which is already balanced.

The county’s total millage includes the Forsyth County Board of Education’s millage rate of 19.718 mills, the same as 2016, and the total state rate. The millage rates for schools and the county have been advertised to remain unchanged, though the state’s will be reduced by .05 mills.

The total millage rate is expected to be 27.754 mills.

By choosing not to adopt the rollback rate and keep the millage rate unchanged, it will effectively raise taxes for homeowners whose properties were reassessed this year.

A third public hearing on the millage rate will take place on Thursday, July 21 at 6 p.m., when the rate can be adopted.