Several Metro Atlanta governments raising property tax rates

9:24 PM, Jul 26, 2011   |    comments
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  • Deserted Clayton County home.
  • Shuttered Clayton County businesses.
    

JONESBORO, Ga. -- It seems like cash-strapped local governments are hiking property taxes all over Metro Atlanta.

Tuesday night Clayton County Commissioners were set to vote on a whopping 34 percent millage rate hike and Cobb County's on a 17 percent jump.

DeKalb County Commissioners recently passed a 26 percent increase.

Fulton County Commissioners held the line and Gwinnett County's are leaning against a higher rate.

All are telling their taxpayers they have cut government services about all they can and still provide basic services.

All are hurting for the same reason, a shrinking tax base.

Clayton County, for example, lost about $1 billion in property tax value over the past year thanks to shuttered businesses, layoffs, empty new store fronts, and home mortgage foreclosures.

At a Tuesday morning public hearing several Clayton County taxpayers, many senior citizens on fixed incomes, said they can't take any more tax hikes.

"The debacle over the schools, the job losses, the foreclosures, we as a county, we're taxed out," said homeowner Marsha Hamilton. "We're taxed out."

She continued to plead with Clayton Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell after the meeting.

"If we don't stop the hemorrhaging and the accountability and these people are accountable for my money they're spending, your money they're spending, okay?" she told Bell.

"We're gonna be broke, as a county and a city, we're gonna be broke!" Hamilton added.

But just because the millage rate goes up, that doesn't necessarily mean a higher tax bill for all property owners.

It depends on how much their property is worth, compared to past years.

For example, a Jonesboro home valued at $112,000 in 2009 had a tax bill of $1,600 that year.

Because that home's value has dropped to $92,000, the owner will actually face a $1,400 tax bill this year.

A home in the fashionable Lake Spivey area valued at $816,000 in 2009 got a tax bill of $11,300 that year.

This year it's only valued at $745,000, but the tax bill will still go up about $300.

Clayton Chairman Eldrin Bell told the angry taxpayers he plans to vote against the 34 percent millage hike, but as of last count, he's outnumbered three to two on the commission.

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