The tax hit comes despite sliding home values of 20 to 30 percent, especially in South DeKalb.
Tax Commissioner Claudia G. Lawson warned homeowners this week to brace themselves for additional property taxes of $200 to $300 this year and next due to the elimination of state funding.
“The state Homestead Tax Relief Grant that funded an increased homestead exemption for homeowners for the last several years will not be available this year,” she said. “Declining state revenues during the current recession means there is no money for the state to give the tax relief to homeowners.”
With no grant from the state to lower their tax bill, homeowners will have to foot all of the bill themselves.
Robert Goodman, deputy tax commissioner, said the increase will be on the 2009 tax bills that will be mailed the first week in July. It will be due for payment between Aug. 15 and Nov. 15.
The larger tax bill comes even as thousands of DeKalb residents are on the unemployment line. In April, 34,012 DeKalb residents were unemployed. Just last week, more than 1,000 of them showed up for a May 28 job fair hosted by 4th District Congressman Hank Johnson at DeKalb Technical College.
Lawson said it’s unfortunate to deliver this message in slow economic times but that homeowners need to know now so they can plan for the increase.
On the heels of Lawson’s statement, county commissioners announced that they have tentatively adopted millage rates that will increase property taxes in unincorporated DeKalb by 3.73 percent.
Avondale Estates, Chamblee and Decatur will see a Special Services tax of 0.73, 43 and 1.33 percent respectively. Debt service will be 6.94 percent.
The Board of Commissioners have been in the habit of using HOST funds to cushion the impact of millage rate increases but with expected lower sales taxes and decling property tax revenues, it is unclear how much it will have to offer taxpayers relief.
The BOC is hosting public hearings on the millage increase on June 16 at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and June 23 at 10 a.m. at the Maloof Auditorium, 1300 Commerce Drive in downtown Decatur.
The commissioners, who are facing mid-year gudget adjustments in June, were in retreat Friday receiving information from county officials about the impact of the reduced property assessments and the impact of city of Dunwoody on the budget.
For homeowners, the tax blow was somewhat softened by reduced property assessments that the county was forced to make this year with the passage of a new state law that mandated that local jurisdictions factor in lower property values brought on the foreclosure tsunami that has devastated neighborhoods, especially in South DeKalb.
On May 20, the county’s Board of Tax Assessors re-issued 99,600 notices to DeKalb property owners.
Interim chief appraiser Hank Ruffin said Monday that 45,000 of the new notices were for reductions of 20 to 30 percent in assessed values because of foreclosures that have depressed property values.
Altogether, the county’s digest of 235,386 parcels decreased $1.2 billion. Ruffin said that after the property that saw increased values are factored in, the net reduction in the digest is $846.5 million.
But even with the large number of lower assessments, property owners will be paying more in taxes this year than they did in 2008. For example, a homeowner with $150,000 house paid $1,597.93 in property taxes in 2008. This year, that same house, which is now assessed at $140,000, will pay $1,727.97 in taxes.