Coweta County has approved a millage rate lower than the “rollback rate" for standard county maintenance and operations, and an increase in the millage rate that funds the Coweta County Fire Department.
The M&O millage rate, the fire district millage, and the millage rate for debt service on the $20 million fire bond were approved this week by the Coweta County Board of Commissioners. The board also gave approval to the Coweta County Board of Education rate, which goes on the tax bills issued by the county, and millage rates for two Haralson special service districts.
Each year, the county must calculate a rollback millage rate, which takes into account changes in property values and the county’s tax digest – the total value of all taxable property in the county. The rollback rate is the millage rate that would provide the same amount of revenue on existing properties as last year’s rate provided. When property values go up, the rollback rate goes down.
The 2019 millage rates are 7.46 mills for county residents who live in cities and towns; 6.6 mills for residents of the unincorporated areas; 3.75 for the fire district; 0.33 for the fire bond; and 18.59 for the school system.
Last year’s fire district tax was 3.65, and the rollback rate would be 3.632. The new fire district rate is considered a 3.25 percent tax increase, according to documents provided with the meeting agenda.
Last year’s fire bond rate was 0.44, and the rollback rate would be 0.438. The approved fire bond millage of 0.33 is a 24.66 percent tax decrease.
While state law requires legal advertisements and public hearings before the M&O millage can be set, there is no such requirement for millage rates on special tax districts, such as the fire district and fire bond district, according to Fouts. The fire district and the fire bond district were both created following votes by Coweta County residents. State law requires one public hearing on an M&O rate if the county is taking the rollback or a lower rate, and three public hearings for a tax increase.
The county ended up taking an M&O rate just below the rollback millage rate. The rollback is 6.605 for the unincorporated areas, and the county set it at 6.6. The rollback rate for the incorporated areas is 7.609, with the 2019 millage rate set at 7.46.
The rate for incorporated and unincorporated areas is different because of insurance premium taxes. The county gets tax money from insurance premiums paid by residents of the unincorporated areas, while the cities receive that tax for their residents. The insurance premium tax must be used to offset – or roll back – property taxes for residents of the unincorporated county.
The unincorporated rate from last year, 6.64, isn’t much higher than the rollback rate. That’s because there weren’t a lot of reassessments, said County Administrator Michael Fouts.
“The majority of growth of the digest was new growth,” he said.