Last week's discovery of a solution to Barrow County's budget impasse for fiscal year 2012 led Monday to the tentative approval of a $31.8 million spending plan that can be balanced by raising the property tax rate only enough to keep property tax revenues level.
Pending final adoption after a public hearing in September, the BOC agreed to a tentative increase of .592 mills in the ad valorem tax. An earlier proposal would have raised the rate nearly 2 mills. But late last week, a reporter for the Barrow Journal found an error in the county's tax calculations where officials had underestimated tax revenues by around $2 million.
The .592 mill increase is a 5.7-percent increase to the current rate of 10.338 mills and compensates for a similar drop in the overall value of the tax digest.
Because the so-called "rollback" or "roll up" rate would not generate additional property tax revenues for the county, it does not constitute a net tax increase.
The rate everywhere other than Winder would rise to 10.930 mills. In Winder the rate would be 8.708 mills in addition to the 3-mill fire tax in that city.
Tax Commissioner Melinda Williams told the BOC that she randomly selected several properties Monday to see how the .592-mill rate hike would impact their tax bills, and she found that their bills would not rise due to their recent drop in property values.
All properties in the county lost value in this year's countywide reassessment by the Barrow County Tax Assessors Office. However, any properties that did not drop by at least 5.7 percent in value will have slightly higher tax bills if the BOC adopts the tentative budget in late September.
The BOC's vote was 4-2, with commissioners Larry Joe Wilburn and Isaiah Berry voting no.
The vote followed robust debate and the failures of competing budget-cutting proposals by Wilburn and BOC Chairman Danny Yearwood that would have included major cuts to funding of public safety services.
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