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'We've had tremendous growth': Houston County plans to lower tax rate, increases property value

Chairman Tommy Stalnaker says Houston County has zero debt and they have had one of the lowest millage rates in Central Georgia for years.

HOUSTON COUNTY, Ga. — Houston County plans to drop its tax rate a bit, but most property values are going up, and that means most homeowners will probably pay more taxes.

This process is something they go through every year.

The Houston County Board of Education sets their millage rate and then the Houston County Board of Commissioners set theirs.

This year, the Houston County Board of Commissioners plans to set the county's millage rate at 9.81 mills.

That's down a bit from last year's, which was 9.935 mills.

A mill is $1 for every $1,000 in value.

"Makes a little different this year, because there has been an awful lot of market changes in this county this year," Stalnaker said.

For 20 years, Houston has operated under a tax cap, which sets a max millage rate.

Because of that cap, the board must rollback the rate by just over a tenth of a mill.

"So, we have to get back up under the tax cap, which is 9.81 mills; and you say, 'How did you exceed the tax cap?' Again, it goes back to the growth we are having in the county, either through market changes or new growth, new construction," Stalnaker said.

County Commission Chairman Tommy Stalnaker says Houston's growth has increased the tax digest, the value of all property in the county.

"It went up because of the reasons of market value changes, new growth, or any new improvements on property; and it is not anything that the government has done to drive up the market prices up," Stalnaker said.

However, Stalnaker says your tax bill will increase only if your property value increases through market adjustment or if you made improvements.

William Harris and Tom Whymark didn't have any objections.

"The more service you get by doing that," Harris said.

"The property value is going up for everybody," Whymark said.

"Thank goodness this county has had tremendous growth over a number of years, particularly in the last two years. We've had tremendous growth. The growth has increased the digest and the value of the digest, but it also changed the market value of the properties here, where it be a residential structure or a commercial structure or land itself," Stalnaker said.

Before they can set the final millage rate, they have to host three public hearings.

Houston County is hosting their final public hearing on July 28th at 5pm at the Houston County Annex Building off Carl Vinson Parkway.

After that hearing, the board plans to vote and adopt the 2023 tax rate.

"The actual fair market value is taxed on 40%, so whatever their fair market value is they will be taxed on 40% of that value. Being able to understand when you apply the millage rate to that value of what your taxes would be, I think there is a lot of confusion that people might think they are taxed on 100% of their property. That is not true. It is only on 40% of their property that they are taxed on," Stalnaker said.

Stalnaker says Houston County has zero debt and they have had one of the lowest millage rates in Central Georgia for years.

For the past 10 years, they've been steadily lower than Macon-Bibb County's millage rate.

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