Tuesday, June 6, 2023–1:18 p.m.
-David Crowder, WRGA News-
When property assessments went out last month, many taxpayers reported sticker shock as their home values saw a substantial increase from last year. Although an increase in value may not necessarily translate into a property tax increase, members of the Rome-Floyd County Joint Services Committee are wondering if it may be time to simplify the taxing process.
On Tuesday, the committee heard from Floyd County Chief Appraiser Danny Womack, who explained that the assessments are in-line with market values, and due to the state’s Homestead Tax Relief Grant and Rome and Floyd County’s homestead freeze, some may actually see a decrease in their property tax bill.
He did admit that he would like to see some changes to make the process more uniform and easier for the public to understand. For instance, homesteaded properties in the county get a base exemption of $5,000 while those in the city get no base exemption. There is a $2,000 base exemption for county school taxes. However, the county allows up to five acres under the homestead exemption while county schools allow up to one acre.
“I would get all of the different entities to have the same criteria for determining the homestead value,” he said. “I wouldn’t have two different acreages. I would have everyone either has a homestead base value or not. Right now, we have both.”
Due to the homestead freeze, implemented in 2002, if market values increase, the homestead exemption will increase in an equal amount. The frozen value stays in place until the property is sold or a new deed is filed on the property. However, the freeze does not apply to school taxes. Another issue with school taxes is the exemption amount for those 65 and older, which has been $100,000 for many years. Womack said that with increasing property values, some who used to be exempt from school taxes now have to pay.
“I would pick an age, whatever it may be, and I would consider changing the $100,000 value,” he said. “Make it a more relative value to make it more accurate in today’s economy, and leave room for an adjustment to that number based on the economy.”
Womack warned the committee that an exemption is just a shift and for every taxpayer who benefits from an exemption, another taxpayer has to assume that burden. Floyd County School Superintendent Glenn White agreed.
“With exemptions, some benefit, while some have to pay more,” he said. “However, if you lower the millage rate, that’s for everyone.”
White told the committee that he is going to recommend a .25 percent decrease in the Floyd County Schools millage rate later this year, which would make the rate the lowest it has been since 2003.
Floyd County property owners who believe an error was made in their assessments have until June 26 to appeal. Be prepared to state the reason or the grounds for the appeal, and an asserted value, which is your opinion of value. Womack said his office is on track to receive around 1,400 appeals this year. That is up slightly from the 1,100 that were filed last year.