The Tattnall County Board of Commissioners heard from Tax Assessor Dean Crews Monday morning at their monthly meeting after a slew of calls from citizens following the addition of wells and septic tanks onto property tax bills.
Crews told Commissioners that well and septic tanks were added to property valuations this year for the first time. The change applied to those in rural areas (not city limits where water is provided) and added roughly $58 to each annual property tax bill.
One well and one septic were added to each property for $2,500 each for a total of $5,000.
Crews said the addition had been considered for several years in Tattnall County due to the fact that properties are coming up short when they are sold. “They’re selling for $15,000 and we have it on the books for $5,000-6,000,” Crews said.
Why is this a problem?
The miscalculations are costing the county upwards of $75,000 every year when the county is assessed penalties when the ratios for collections do not balance and the lack of collections leads to a drop in the ratio of collections below 36% which adversely affects the public utilities of the school board.
Crews said the additions added an additional $20 million to the county tax digest, but when considering fair market value and the forestry land protection covenants, the number is significantly smaller.
If a shared well or septic was identified, the valuation is lifted for the parcel that does not have its own well or septic. Crews said residents should just contact the Tax Assessor’s Office is a situation like that arises.
Crews also said many citizens were concerned that, because the change was not explicitly noted on the form sent in the mail, the process was done in secret. But that is not the case he says. “The assessment notice that you all got is a notice that is mandated by the state of Georgia. We cannot change the layout of that notice.” The well and septic additions were included in the breakdown, but that is the only leeway the office was granted.
“We’ve had some people that have been angry, but once you explain the situation, they have received it very well. They don’t always walk out of my office liking what they heard, but most of the time, my staff makes they understand,” Crews said.
A possible solution.
Chairman Jackie Trim recommended to the Commissioners that they vote to roll back the millage rate in the budget process to avoid a tax increase for residents. No concise numbers were suggested and tax relief estimates were not presented, but Commissioner Burkhalter made a motion and Commissioner Bobby Kennedy seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
Whether or not Commissioners will be able to balance the budget, give employee raises, and account for other increases in departments while rolling back the millage rate at the same time will be determined in the weeks to come as they finalize plans for the FY 2018 budget.
The county does plan to propose a renewal for the county SPLOST which covers roads, public buildings, emergency services, county recreation, city recreation, and funding for municipalities.
While the dates could change, budget hearings are tentatively scheduled as follows:
- JUNE 15 – 6:00 P.M. – Budget Workshop – Commissioners Office
- JUNE 22 – 6:00 P.M. – Budget Workshop – Commissioners Office
- JULY 10 – 9:00 A.M. – July Commission Meeting to discuss previous millage rates
- JULY 20 – 6:00 P.M. – Budget Workshop – Commissioners Office
- AUGUST 7 – 9:00 A.M. – August Commission Meeting – Request for Approval of Budget
- OCTOBER 1 – FY 2018 Budget Year Begins
The full video of the meeting is below. Discussion with Mr. Crews begins at the 9:30 mark.
Tattnall Commissioners Meeting – Begins @ 9AM – 2016 audit details, 2017 SPLOST info
Posted by All On Georgia – Tattnall on Monday, June 5, 2017