Rollback of Millage Rate When Digest Value Increased by Reassessments - State of Georgia tax

(1) Purpose and scope. This Rule has been adopted by the Commissioner pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 48-2-12, and O.C.G.A. § 48-5-32.1 to provide specific procedures applicable to the certification of assessed taxable value of property to the appropriate authorities, computation of a rollback millage rate, and under certain circumstances, advertising the intent to increase property tax and holding required public hearings.


(2) Definitions. For the purposes of implementing this Rule, the following terms are defined to mean:

(a) "Certified tax digest" means the total taxable net assessed value on the annual tax digest that has been or will be certified by the tax receiver or tax commissioner to the Department of Revenue after the total of all appeals that have been or could be filed or arbitrations demanded have been reduced below the maximum amount authorized under O.C.G.A. § 48-5-304.

(b) "Levying authority" means a county, a municipality, or a consolidated city-county governing authority or other governing authority of a political subdivision of this state that exercises the power to levy property taxes to carry out the governing authority's purposes.

(c) "Mill" means one one-thousandth of a United States dollar.

(d) "Millage rate" means the net ad valorem tax levy, in mills, that is established by the recommending or levying authority to be applied to the net assessed value of taxable property within such authority's taxing jurisdiction for purposes of financing, in whole or in part, the recommending or levying authority's maintenance and operating expenses, the expenses of a special district, and to pay interest on and retire bonded indebtedness for the fiscal year.

(e) "Millage equivalent" means the number of mills that would result when the total net assessed value added by reassessments of existing real property from the prior tax year's assessed value is divided by the certified tax digest for the current tax year and the result is multiplied by the prior tax year's millage rate.

(f) "Net assessed value" means the taxable assessed value of property after all exemptions have been deducted.

(g) "Property tax" means a tax imposed by applying a millage rate that has been established by a recommending or levying authority to the net assessed value of real property subject to ad valorem taxation within a taxing jurisdiction.

(h) "Recommending authority" means a county, independent, or area school board of education that exercises the power to cause the levying authority to levy property taxes to carry out the purposes of such board of education.

(i) "Rollback rate" means the previous year's millage rate minus the millage equivalent of the total net assessed value added by reassessments of existing real property.

(j) "Special district" means a district created pursuant to Paragraph VI, Section II, Article IX of the Constitution within which an ad valorem tax is levied to pay wholly or partially the cost of providing services therein and to construct and maintain facilities therefore.

(k) "Taxing jurisdiction" means all the real property within a county, municipality or special district, subject to the levy of a specific levying authority or the recommended levy of a specific recommending authority.

(l) "Total net assessed value added by reassessments of existing real property" means the total net assessed value added to the certified tax digest as a result of revaluation by the board of tax assessors of existing real property that has not been improved since the previous tax digest year. Total net assessed value added by reassessments of existing real property shall not include net assessment changes that result from zoning changes or net assessment changes relative to classification or declassification of real property for conservation or preferential agricultural use or for historic preservation purposes.


(3) Calculation of rollback rate. The rollback rate shall be determined in the manner provided in this paragraph.

(a) Estimating the certified tax digest. The recommending or levying authority may utilize an estimate of the certified tax digest to facilitate the establishment of a millage rate earlier in the year; however, the accuracy requirements of paragraph (5)(b) of this Rule must still be met before the actual certified tax digest is presented to the Commissioner for approval.

(b) Certification of digest to recommending and levying authorities. As soon as the total net assessed value of the certified tax digest can be accurately estimated or determined, the tax receiver or tax commissioner shall certify to the recommending and levying authorities of each taxing jurisdiction the total net assessed value of all taxable property within each respective taxing jurisdiction. Such certification shall separately show the total net assessed value added by reassessments of existing real property and the total net assessed value of all remaining taxable property.

(c) Determination of rollback rate. Based on the total net assessed value of the actual or estimated certified tax digest for the current year and the actual certified tax digest and millage rate for the previous year, the levying authority or recommending authority shall determine the rollback rate with the assistance of the tax receiver or tax commissioner. The rollback rate shall be calculated using Form PT-32.1 as provided by the Department and in the manner defined in subparagraph (i) of paragraph (2) of this Rule.


(4) Advertisement of rollback rate, press release and public hearing. The procedures for the advertising of the rollback rate, issuing the required press release and holding public hearings shall be as provided in this paragraph.

(a) Procedure when rollback rate not exceeded. Whenever a recommending or levying authority proposes to adopt a millage rate that does not exceed the rollback rate calculated as defined in subparagraph (i) of paragraph (2) of this Rule, such authority shall adopt the millage rate at an advertised public meeting and at a time and place which is convenient to the taxpayers of the taxing jurisdiction, in accordance with O.C.G.A. § 48-5-32.

(b) Procedure when rollback rate is exceeded. Whenever a recommending or levying authority proposes to establish any millage rate that would require increases beyond the rollback rate calculated in subparagraph (i) of paragraph (2) of this Rule, such authority shall advertise its intent to do so and conduct at least three public hearings in accordance with O.C.G.A. § 48-5-32.1 and this subparagraph.

     1. Schedule of public hearings. The recommending or levying authority shall schedule the public hearings required by O.C.G.A. § 48-5-32.1 at convenient times and places to afford the public an opportunity to respond to the notice of property tax increase and make their opinions on the increase known to such authority. The scheduling shall conform to the following requirements:

     (i) Convenient public hearings. Two of the three public hearings required by this paragraph shall be held at times and places that are convenient to the public and at least five business days apart. One of the three public hearings required by this paragraph shall begin between 6 PM and 7 PM, inclusive, on a business weekday. Such public hearing may be held on a day in which another public hearing under this Rule also is scheduled, but only if such other hearing is to begin no later than 12:00 noon.

     (ii) Combination with other public hearings. A public hearing required by this paragraph may be combined with the public hearing required by O.C.G.A. § 36-81-5(f) to be held at least one week prior to the meeting of the governing authority at which adoption of the budget ordinance or resolution will be considered. Additionally, a public hearing required by this paragraph may be combined with the meeting at which the levying or recommending authority will be setting a millage rate that must be advertised in accordance with the provisions of O.C.G.A. § 48-5-32.

     (iii) Timing of public hearings. All public hearings required by this paragraph shall be held before the millage rate is finally established.

     2. Advertisement of public hearings. The recommending or levying authority shall advertise the public hearings required by O.C.G.A. § 48-5-32.1 in a manner that affords the public a timely notice of the time and place where the public hearings on the intention of such authority to increase taxes will be held. The advertisements shall conform to the following requirements:

     (i) Location of advertisement. Each advertisement for a public hearing required by O.C.G.A. § 48-5-32.1 shall be prominently displayed in a newspaper of general circulation serving the residents of the unit of local government placing the advertisement and shall not appear in the section of the newspaper where legal notices appear.

     (ii) Frequency of advertisement. Each advertisement for a public hearing required by O.C.G.A. § 48-5-32.1 shall be published on a date that precedes the date of such public hearing by at least one week. Each advertisement shall be at least five business days apart, however, when two public hearings required by O.C.G.A. § 48-5-32.1 have been scheduled on the same day in accordance with subparagraph (4)(b)(1)(i) of this Rule, both hearings may be advertised in the same day's edition of the newspaper provided they are combined in such a manner that makes it clear to the public that two separate hearings on the same subject matter are being held.

     (iii) Combining with other advertisements. The advertisements required by this subparagraph may be combined with the advertisements required by O.C.G.A. § 36-81- 5(e) and O.C.G.A. § 48-5-32(b), provided the notice required to be published by O.C.G.A. § 48-5-32.1 precedes and appears at the top of the report required to be published by O.C.G.A. § 48-5-32.

     (iv) Form of advertisement. The advertisements required by this Rule shall read exactly as provided by this Rule and not be reworded in any manner, with the exception that a brief reference may be included in the advertisement directing the reader's attention to some other section of the newspaper where the recommending or levying authority has published additional explanations or information relative to the tax increase. The advertisements required of this Rule shall read as follows, with the heading that reads "NOTICE OF PROPERTY TAX INCREASE" appearing in all upper case and in either a bold font or a font size that is larger than the remaining body of the notice:


     NOTICE OF PROPERTY TAX INCREASE
     The (name of recommending authority or levying authority) has tentatively adopted a millage rate which will require an increase in property taxes by (percentage increase over rollback rate) percent. All concerned citizens are invited to the public hearing on this tax increase to be held at (place of meeting) on (date and time).

     (v) Determination of percentage increase. The "percentage increase over rollback rate" number that appears in the advertisements required by this subparagraph shall be determined by subtracting the rollback rate from the proposed millage rate, dividing this difference by the rollback rate and expressing the results as a percentage.

     (vi) Press release. At the same time the first advertisement is made in accordance with this Rule, the recommending or levying authority shall also provide a press release to the local media that announces such authority's intention to seek an increase in property taxes and the dates, times, and locations of the public hearings thereon. The press release may contain such other information as the recommending or levying authority deems may help the public understand the necessity for and purpose of the hearings.


(5) Certification to Commissioner to accompany digest. Upon the submission by the tax receiver or tax commissioner of the tax digest and accompanying certifications, the Commissioner will make a determination of whether the recommending and levying authorities have complied with the provisions of O.C.G.A. § 48-5-32.1 and this Rule before issuing an authorization to collect taxes pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 48-5-345.

     (a) Evidence of compliance. The Commissioner shall not be required to accept for review any certified tax digest from any county tax receiver or tax commissioner that does not simultaneously submit evidence that the provisions of O.C.G.A. § 48-5-32.1 and this Rule have been met. Such evidence shall include Form PT-32.1 showing the calculation of the rollback rate, the actual millage rate established, a statement from the chairman of the board of tax assessors attesting to the total net assessed value added by the reassessment of existing real property, a statement from the tax collector or tax commissioner attesting to the accuracy of the digest information appearing on the form, and a statement from a responsible authority attesting to the fact that the hearings were actually held in accordance with such published advertisements. When the actual millage rate exceeds the rollback rate, such evidence shall also include copies of the published "Notice of Property Tax Increase" showing the times and places when and where the required public hearings were held and a copy of the required press release provided to the local media.

     (b) Incorrectly determined rollback rate. When the Commissioner determines that the recommending or levying authority has incorrectly determined the rollback rate and has established a millage rate that is in excess of the correct rollback rate and failed to advertise a notice of tax increase and held the required public hearings or has advertised a percentage tax increase that is less than the actual tax increase, the Commissioner shall not accept the digest for review or issue an Order authorizing the collection of taxes, except in that instance when such incorrect rollback rate overestimates the taxes that may be levied without the required public hearings by less than 3 percent, in which case the digest may be accepted for review if all other digest submission requirements have otherwise been met.

     (c) Reductions to advertised millage rates. When the recommending authority or levying authority adopts a final millage rate below the rate that has been the subject of the hearings required by O.C.G.A. § 48-5-32.1, such authority shall not be required to begin anew the procedures and hearings required by O.C.G.A. § 48-5-32.1 and this Rule.

TAX NEWS - NOVEMBER 2009

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