The Oconee County Board of Commissioners will hold three public hearings over the next month on a proposed 4.19 percent property tax increase in the unincorporated parts of the county and 5.01 percent increase in the four cities in the county.
The property tax increases result from the decision of the Board of Commission to maintain the millage rate of 6.686 in the unincorporated parts of the county and 7.656 in the incorporated areas at a time when assessed value of property is increasing.
Commission Chair John Daniell announced the required public hearings at the Board of Commissioners meeting last (Tuesday) night.
The first hearing will be at 6:30 p.m. on July 11, followed by additional hearings at noon on July 25 and at 6:30 p.m. on July 25. All of the hearings will be at the Commission Chamber in the Courthouse in Watkinsville.
Daniell also announced that the Board of Commissioners will hold a Town Hall Meeting at 6:30 p.m. on July 13 at Oconee Veterans Park, 3500 Hog Mountain Road.
Finally, Daniell announced the resignation of John Gentry as director of the Oconee County Department of Parks and Recreation. Gentry has served the county for 17 years, Daniell said.
Gentry informed friends on Monday evening of his decision to accept the position of director of the Parks and Recreation Department of Gwinnett County.
He said he had submitted his resignation on Monday, effective July 7, and that he will assume his position in Gwinnett County on July 24.
Gentry, who lives off Daniells Bridge Road, said he plans to remain in the county.
County Administrator Jeff Benko confirmed the resignation to me on Tuesday morning and said “I will discuss with Board tonight and recommend we follow normal recruiting practices” to replace Gentry.
The Board went into executive session at the end of last night’s meeting to discussion personnel matters and Courthouse security.
State law requires the county to hold the public hearings even though it is maintaining the same millage, or tax, rate for the fiscal year starting on July 1 as it had for the fiscal year ending on Friday.
Daniell did not announce the effective increase in tax rate at the meeting last night, but the legal notice stating those rates appears on page A5 of tomorrow’s edition of The Oconee Enterprise, the county’s legal organ, or publication in which legal notices appear.
The statement also appears on the county’s web site.
According to that statement, the millage rate that the Board of Commissioners is expected to adopt of 6.686 for the unincorporated parts of the county would have been 6.417, or 0.269 mills less, if the Board had opted to reduce the rate to compensate for the increase in the tax digest.
For property owners in Bishop, Bogart, North High Shoals and Watkinsville, the millage rate would have been 7.291, rather than 7.656, or a difference of 0.365 mills, had the Board reduced the millage rate to compensate for the increase in the tax digest.
These are average figures, and the actual amount of tax increase or decrease a property owner pays will be determined by the changes in property assessments. The county sent out the statements of property assessments at the end of May.
Residents of the unincorporated parts of the county have a lower tax rate because of a rollback for insurance premiums dictated by the state.
Residents of the four cities also pay an additional property tax to cover the costs of city services.
According to the public notice in tomorrow’s Enterprise, the total county property taxes levied for 2017 is $12,212,823, or an increase of 7.11 percent over the $11,401,784 for last year.
The Board of Commissioners has approved a $26.9 million general fund budget, financed largely by property tax, for Fiscal Year 2018.
That budget represents an increase of 7.41 percent over the $25.1 million Fiscal Year 2017 budget.
The Fiscal Year 2017 budget was based on an increase in property taxes from the previous year of 5.08 percent, according to the legal document.
The Commission last night reviewed a proposal for the addition of three multi-purpose fields at Oconee Veterans Park.
The fields will include baseball diamonds and also large outfields that can be used for lacrosse.
The upgrade also includes 327 new parking spaces.
Daniell said the fields probably will not be usable until the fall of 2018.
The Commission also interviewed applicants for a number of citizen advisory committees.
The complete video of the meeting is below.