On Tuesday, July 11th, the DeKalb County Commission approved millage rates for Countywide Services and the services the County Government provides to unincorporated areas and in some municipalities. The aggregate nominal millage rate for unincorporated DeKalb was unchanged from 2017 at 20.81 mills*. Following are highlights of our actions on Tuesday. A more comprehensive review of the budget is attached.
The aggregate millage rate is comprised of 7 rates, each restricted to a specific area of service delivery ranging from County wide services (the General Fund) to unincorporated police services (the Public Safety Fund). The General Fund millage (our largest fund, which pays for courts, the jail, libraries and other county wide services rose 0.916 mills, but that increase was offset in unincorporated DeKalb (as well as Tucker and Stonecrest, where we provide extensive services) by smaller decreases in the Fire, Bond, Designated (parks and roads, mostly), and Public Safety funds. All funds saw net increases in expected revenues, due to the expansion of the property tax digest (i.e. aggregate real estate values), upon which the millage rates are applied.
Against these levies, homesteaded (owner occupied) properties enjoy offsetting credits due to the tax assessment freeze, and the expanded Homestead Option Sales Tax credit (EHOST), which was adopted last November. The switch to EHOST provided increased property tax relief to all homeowners, but is most impactful in municipalities, where former limits to the HOST Credit were removed. Overall as a homeowner in every jurisdiction, your County tax bill should be lower than last year, net of all credits and levies. Of course, your tax bill also includes levies for the Board of Education and municipal services, if you live in a city. The County’s assessment freeze and EHOST credits do not apply to these taxes, and your tax bill from them may change.
The Board of Commissioners did make some small adjustments to the budget, including more resources in the District Attorney’s Office for predictive analysis of high crime areas, and in parks, where we funded a five member bicycle-mounted security patrol, and the first ever Ranger Position for Mason Mill/Medlock/Melton Parks. These popular parks, now linked by an extensive trail system will benefit from dedicated staff on the grounds, providing programming, and making sure the parks are well cared for and attractive. The position should be filled before the end of the year.
Finally, the adopted budget continues to add to our rainy day reserves, to cushion against declining revenues, and to strengthen our credit worthiness. These reserves are as essential for our governmental financial strength as your savings are for your household’s.
* A “mill” is a tax of $1 for every $1000 of taxable property value. Taxable value is 40% of the appraised fair market value, minus applicable exemptions. Taxes due are further offset by credits, including the EHOST Credit, which is available for owner occupied homes