Coweta School Board has two Tax Hearings remaining for 2022 Millage Rate
From Coweta County Schools Press Release
The Coweta County Board of Education has held the first of three tax hearings to consider a recommended 2022 property tax millage rate of 16.00 mills.
That property tax rate, if adopted, would represent a 1.14 mill reduction in the school tax rate of 17.14 mills adopted in 2021. If the 16.00 mill rate is adopted by the school board it would be the third year in a row that the board has reduced school tax rates, and the lowest Coweta school tax rate since 1983.
The board held the first of three public hearings on August 9 this week. Two additional hearings will be held at the Board of Education Office, 167 Werz Industrial Boulevard in Newnan on August 18, at 12 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Superintendent Evan Horton is recommending the school board adopt a 1.14 mill reduction in tax rates this year, to 16.00 mills. The millage rate is the rate applied to local property taxes, which provides the school system with approximately half of its funding for maintenance and operations of the school system.
For many years, the school system’s millage rate was “steady at 18.59 mills… until 2020. In 2020 the board lowered it to 17.33. Last year, the board lowered it again to 17.14. And now this year, we’re now recommending to the board that we lower it to 16>”
It will compare well to surrounding school systems, said Horton. “In the metro area right now I can only find one other school district that would be lower than 16 (mills)… over in Heard County. We would be, if not the lowest, one of the lowest in the metro area.”
Horton attributes the downward trajectory of local school system tax rates to “a fiscally responsible board that, while trying to make sure that we fulfill our mission and our responsibilities to the community, is trying to be responsible and responsive to the taxpayers in the community. We’re trying to maximize every dollar that we get.”
The proposed reduction in this year’s school millage rates follows growth and a round of local revaluation of real and personal property in Coweta County this year. The total value of assessed property in the county increased to $7,931,830,979 in 2022, up from $6,468,875,293 in 2021 and $6,180,791,001 in 2020.
The proposed tax rate of 16.00 mills would lead to an anticipated 7.4% increase in local school system tax revenues over a projected rollback rate of 14.90 mills. However, the sharp increase in the value of real and personal property in Coweta County from 2021 to 2022 will also, under state law, lead to an anticipated decrease in state educational funding of approximately $7.1 million under the state school funding formulas.
The state of Georgia deducts each school district’s “Local Fair Share” from total state educational funding each year, based on each district’s tax base. As the tax digest grows, that amount increases. Coweta’s $32.3 million in fair share for FY 2022 is projected to increase to $39.4 million. This represents a decrease in state educational funding of $7,100,000 for Coweta. The increase in local tax revenue is proposed to offset the projected decrease in state funding.
“You could lower the millage rate to where you have a negative revenue” due to the increase in the local fair share, said Horton. “You don’t want to lower it just so you have to turn around and raise it the next year.”
On average, the proposed rate of 16.00 mills would increase taxes for a home with a fair market value of $250,000 by an average of $130.04, (this does not include applicable homestead tax exemptions for eligible homeowners). That average is based on the anticipated increase in the tax digest for Coweta County as a whole. However, if the assessed value of a homeowner’s existing, real property is the same as the previous year, or had not increased by more than 7.4% since last year, then the homeowner would see a lower tax bill for school purposes under the proposed rate of 16.00 mills.
This also occurred in 2020. In response to that local property revaluation, the Coweta County School Board reduced the property tax rate from 18.59 mills – where it had remained for 18 years – to 17.33 mills. The board also called for a citizen referendum in 2019 to increase the value of local senior citizen homestead tax exemptions. That referendum was approved by voters and put in place in 2020.
In 2021, the board further reduced local school property taxes to 17.14 mills. This year proposed millage rate of 16.00,, if adopted, would likely place Coweta as the lowest school property tax rate in the metro Atlanta area, and among the lowest in the West Georgia region. It would also be the lowest Coweta school tax rate since 1983.