Smyrna City Council plans to keep millage rate flat, but property taxes will increase

·3 min read

Jul. 21—SMYRNA — The City Council indicated this week it would hold the city's millage rate flat, but rising property values mean an effective tax increase is coming for many homeowners.

Due to an increase in assessed property values in Smyrna of about 13.7% since last year, the city is estimated to collect an additional $3 million in local property tax revenue this fiscal year, city spokesperson Jennifer Bennett told the MDJ. City revenues will grow by an expected 12%.

At its meeting Monday night, the council held its first public hearing on the proposed millage rate for the upcoming 2023 budget, which the city plans to keep at 8.99 mills.

A "rollback" of the millage rate — lowering the rate so tax revenues would be the same as last year's and resulting in no tax increase — would bring the rate down to 8.048 mills, according to City Administrator Joe Bennett.

"In comparison, last year's millage rollback was calculated at 8.468 [mills]," Bennett told the council.

According to the city, the owner of a house worth $375,000 will pay approximately $132 more in property taxes, while the owner of a home assessed at $575,000 will pay approximately $217 more in the coming fiscal year.

Before the meeting, Smyrna Mayor Derek Norton said he requested information about previous millage rate increases in the city.

"I was curious, how long has it been since we raised the millage rate," Norton said, "and the answer is, we haven't raised the millage rate in 29 years, the last time being 1993."

The millage rate item on the council's agenda was the first public hearing for the proposed tax increase, which the city communicated in a July 7 news release on its website titled "Notice of Property Tax Increase." The top of the same release said, "The City of Smyrna is Not Increasing Tax Rates."

Smyrna resident Ken Segal was the only person who spoke at the public hearing.

"While you're considering the millage rate, I'm not sure how the taxes work, but we've got, I'm sure, a tremendous amount of additional revenue from Truist Park coming into the city," Segal said.

While Smyrna benefits from the "halo effect" of the stadium and receives a share of SPLOST sales tax revenue, Truist Park is not inside city limits and does not generate property tax revenue for the city.

Segal encouraged the rolling back of the millage rate and identified four areas he thinks the council should focus on with any additional revenue: reduce the property tax rate, hire more police officers, give first responders pay raises and provide financial support to struggling families in the city.

The next two public hearings for the proposed millage rate of 8.99 mills will be held on August 1 at 10 a.m. and 6:45 p.m., with the latter hearing to be held during the City Council meeting where the millage rate will be voted on by council members.