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Tattnall Commissioners millage rate process conflicts with Georgia law

The Tattnall County Board of Commissioners voted to advertise the 2017 Tax Digest and 5-Year History of Levy on Monday morning at the July Commission meeting, but the Monday’s vote appears to be out of order.


The paperwork provided at the meeting Monday indicates that, given the millage rate rollback, Tattnall County will avoid a $271,323.77 tax increase. Commissioners hope to set the millage rate at 14.2085 down from 14.8581. The $271,323.77 is how much the county would have collected had the millage rate remained the same. It will leave the county with a net loss of $77.17 from the previous fiscal year.

County Manager Frank Murphy told Commissioners that the hope was to have rolled the millage rate back to below 14.00, but it would mean the county would lose roughly $100,000, which would prohibit both the 3% pay raise and the bonus promised to employees.

So what is the problem?

Commissioners voted in June to roll back the millage rate to avoid a tax increase, though at the time of the vote, it was unclear what that amount would be or how much of a rollback that would require because the tax digest was not yet available. Tax Assessor Dean Crews told Commissioners last month that leaving the millage rate the same would leave taxpayers with a roughly $80 increase annually thanks to the added assessment on wells and septic tanks. It was then that Chairman Jackie Trim made a recommendation to vote to roll back the millage rate to avoid a tax increase. Commissioner Bubba Burkhalter made the motion and it passed unanimously. The County Attorney, Joe McGovern, was present at the June meeting.

You can listen to the audio of the vote here (video of the June and July meetings is at the bottom of the article)

Georgia law requires entities that can levy taxes to advertise the tax digest in the county legal organ for at least one week and published on the county website before the millage rate can actually be adopted or altered. The tax digest was only made available to the county, per County Manager Frank Murphy, on Friday, July 7.

A full explanation of the Georgia Taxpayer Bill of Rights via Senate Bill 177 passed by the General Assembly in 2000 is available here.

Essentially, under Georgia law, no changes to the millage rate are to be voted on until all compliance measures are met. While Tattnall Commissioners did not vote on an actual rate in June, by saying they wanted to roll back the rate so there was no tax increase means Commissioners knew a millage rate other than the current one was to be adopted and voted accordingly. Tattnall County residents can rest assured that they won’t see a tax increase this year, but whether or not it is questionable as to how it came about is a matter of interpretation of Georgia law – OCGA 48-5-32.

A city councilman in the metro Atlanta area told AllOnGeorgia that he believed the vote by Commissioners was outside of the process mandated by law under the Georgia Department of Revenue.

On Monday morning, Chairman Jackie Trim called for a motion to accept the 5-year history and to advertise the digest in the Journal Sentinel. The motion was made by Commissioner Thompson and seconded by Commissioner Tatum. It passed unanimously. The millage rate will be set officially at a meeting at the Tattnall County Courthouse on August 7 at 9:00 A.M.

You can see the 5-year rollback here:
{If you’re reading on mobile device and cannot see the pdf below, click here}

http://tattnall.allongeorgia.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/7/2017/07/Tattnall-5-year-levy.pdf

 

JUNE MEETING:

Tattnall Commissioners Meeting – Begins @ 9AM – 2016 audit details, 2017 SPLOST info

Posted by All On Georgia – Tattnall on Monday, June 5, 2017

JULY MEETING: 

Tattnall County Commission Meeting – Begins @ 9AM

Posted by All On Georgia – Tattnall on Monday, July 10, 2017

 

Jessica Szilagyi is a former Statewide Contributor for AllOnGeorgia.com.

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