Dalton Board of Education approves tentative property tax rate rollback

·2 min read

Aug. 2—The Dalton Board of Education voted 5-0 Tuesday for the second property tax rate rollback in two years, although this year's is tentative.

In 2021, the school board members approved an operating property tax rate of 8.095 mills, which was the first reduction in 13 years; the rate had been 8.2 mills for the prior seven years. On Tuesday, the board members voted for a tentative property tax rate for fiscal year 2023 of 7.95 mills. The fiscal year started July 1.

"We don't control property tax assessments or inflation, but we do control the millage rate, (and) this is really two millage reductions in two years," said Matt Evans, chairman of the school board. "We're not locked in at 7.95 (mills) — we can look at lower than 7.95 — the board may or may not be comfortable going lower."

In budgeting, "we assumed the (tax) digest would grow 2%, and the millage rate would continue at 8.095 mills, (but there's) 14% growth in the digest, 10% of which is attributed to existing properties, (so) we are benefiting from inflationary growth," said Theresa Perry, chief financial officer for Dalton Public Schools. "The other 4% is coming from new development or growth of existing properties, (but) real and personal property values are growing 14%."

"The reduction of the millage rate takes off about 2%, so it ends up being about an 8% increase for an existing property owner," Perry said. A property owner with a home that was valued at $125,000 prior to this year's reassessment and increased in value to $138,090 with the reassessment would see about an $88 increase for his or her school portion on his or her tax bill this year with a reduced millage rate of 7.95.

However, property tax increases can vary significantly from property to property, so that's only an estimate, Perry said. Some property owners may see higher or lower tax increases.

The school board also plans a rollback of the millage rate for the fifth year of General Obligation bonds for the new Hammond Creek Middle School, which opened for the 2021-22 school year.

"We've been at 0.57 and will reduce that to 0.53 mills for fiscal year 2023," Perry said. "The combined millage rate will be 7.95 for maintenance and operating and 0.53 for bond millage."

Superintendent Tim Scott said, "We'll have scenarios of lower millage rates to discuss in future meetings."

Those Taxpayer Bill of Rights/millage rate hearings will be at 8 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 22, and 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 30. All are in the City Council chambers of City Hall and are open to the public.