As expected, Forsyth County commissioners have approved the 2018 millage rate without a rate increase, though the amount collected by the county will increase due to recent property value assessments.
Commissioners unanimously approved millage rates at a meeting on Thursday for 2018 for a county millage rate of 8.036 — the same as this year — with 4.642 mills for maintenance and operations, 1.975 mills for fire and 1.419 mills for bonds.
“Of the main service that the public sees, among other things, we fund the sheriff’s office out of the M&O, or general fund rate, parks and recreation, libraries, senior services, among other services and activities,” County CFO Dave Gruen said. “We still have the fire district as a separate millage rate that goes solely for fire and rescue protection around the county. Then, finally, there is the bond millage rate that is levied to pay back principal interest on the general obligation bonds.”
The county’s combined fire and M&O rates, 6.617 mills, are the lowest in surrounding counties including Hall (8.366), Cherokee (9.054), Gwinnett (10.026) and Fulton (10.45).
The millage rate is the formula that calculates property taxes. One mill equals $1 for every $1,000 in assessed property value, which is 40 percent of the actual market value.
The millage rate will fund the county’s 2018 general operating budget, which a finance committee has been working on since March.
While the millage rate won’t increase, the county is expecting about a 7.6 percent increase in the tax digest due to recent home valuations.
For the tax digest increase, about 3.67 percent came from new construction and 3.99 percent from increased values from reassessments.
Money from the tax digest will go to fund items in 2018. The county still needs to cut about $216,000 to reach a balanced budget before it is adopted in November.
On Oct. 24, the board will hear a presentation of the budget, and a public hearing will be held on Nov. 2. The budget will be up for adoption on Nov. 16.
Two county residents spoke at a required public hearing for the millage rate.
John Trammel, who said he had issues with the county’s homestead exemption for property taxes, spoke against raising taxes in the county, especially for those in need.
“In my mind, I am opposed to raising taxes on the veterans in this county, the people who are sick, the people don’t have jobs,” he said.
Thursday’s hearing was the third required public hearing on the rate. On July 6, two hearings were held.
The county’s millage rate is combined with the Forsyth County Schools millage rate and the state millage rate for the total millage rate for county taxpayers.
The Board of Education approved their millage rate on Tuesday at their monthly meeting, where they voted unanimously to keep it the same as this year.
An M&O rate of 17.3 mills and a debt service rate of 2.418 mills has remained unchanged for the past few years, though, just as is with the county rate, homes that were reassessed this year may see a slight increase in taxes than they paid last year.
“This is still the lowest [school millage rate] in the metro area,” said Rick Gunn, the school system’s CFO, on Tuesday, “and we still have the lowest cost per student in the metro area.”
Editor Kayla Robins contributed to this report.