MOULTRIE, Ga. — Property tax bills are made up of several different elements. A vote by Colquitt County Commission Tuesday will take some of the elements up and others down, but the most notable change will be a big increase in one of the smallest taxes.
What does this mean for you? Most likely your taxes will go up, but not by much.
On Tuesday, the county commission set the millage rate for all of the elements that make up the ad valorem tax except for municipalities. Each of the county’s six municipalities sets its own rate, and that tax money is collected at the same time as that for the county.
The commission set the following rates:
• Unincorporated county: 16.526 mills. This is money for the county government collected from residents outside the municipalities. It is 0.018 mills less than last year. A state-set insurance premium tax rollback will take about 2.4 mills off that, but the exact amount hasn’t been announced yet.
• Incorporated county: 16.526 mills. This is money for the county government collected from residents in the cities. It is 0.001 mills less than last year.
• Special Service District: 1.300 mills. This is money for the operation of certain specific programs — the volunteer fire departments, compliance and zoning, and the county’s contribution to the Downtown Development Authority. It’s collected from everywhere except the City of Moultrie, which has its own programs funded by city taxes. This is 0.071 mills less than last year.
• Moultrie-Colquitt County Development Authority: 0.320 mills. This is money to fund economic development and is levied by the authority, but the county has to sign off on it so that it can be collected with the county’s taxes. It applies to all county residents, whether in a municipality or not, and it is exactly the same as last year.
• Colquitt County Board of Education: 10.248 mills. This is money to fund the school system. While the county commission has to vote to include it with county taxes, it is required by law to accept what the board of education has set. It applies to all residents of the county, whether in a municipality or not. This is 0.006 mills more than last year.
• Moultrie-Colquitt County Parks and Recreation Authority: 1.976 mills. This will fund the Recreation Authority and applies to all residents of the county. It is 0.6 mills more than last year.
When all the elements are added together, it comes to 0.516 mills more than last year.
To put that into perspective, Colquitt County Administrator Chas Cannon told commissioners that the owner of a $100,000 house with a homestead exemption would be looking at about $21 more on his tax bill. A $300,000 property without homestead exemption — such as a business — would face about $240 more in taxes.
Obviously if your property is worth less or more than those baselines, your increase will differ accordingly, and it doesn’t factor in city taxes because they haven’t all been set yet. Moultrie City Manager Pete Dillard said last week that the budget currently under consideration calls for 9.750 mills in tax, which is 0.100 mills less than last year, but the city council won’t make a final vote on that budget and millage until September.
The Recreation Authority requested the tax increase to fund a major renovation project that it’s undertaking. It brings the total millage for the authority close to 2 mills, which is the maximum the law allows the authority to levy.
The renovation is expected to cost around $2.7 million, according to Brad Gregory, chairman of the Recreation Authority, who spoke at Tuesday’s commission meeting. Part of that will be funded by an anticipated donation from the Moultrie City Council.
The City of Moultrie operated the Recreation Department for many years until it was established as a joint city-county authority in 2017. During that time, the city sought and received Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax levies to fund capital projects in the Rec Department. Part of that money has not been spent, and Gregory said it has been promised to the Rec Authority.
The biggest project in the renovation is the Southwest Pool, according to Rec Authority Director Terry Peek. It will cost $1.4 million, but the pool will be completely dug up and replaced. The current pool was built in 1943, Peek said.
Adjacent to the pool is the diving well, which is also slated for an $800,000 upgrade.
Those two projects drew a hint of opposition from County Commissioner Barbara Jelks because so much money was being directed at projects that could only be used part of the year.
Peek responded that the Southwest Pool is heated and after the renovation it would be available for swimming competitions and swim-team training year-round. The diving well is also used most of the year, he said.
When the Rec Authority tax increase was proposed, Jelks cast the only vote against it. When the full slate of millage rates was voted on, she abstained.
All other commissioners voted to approve both measures.