Walker County, Georgia Proposes Property Tax Increase – Chattanooga Times Free Press | Vette Leader

The Walker County Board of Commissioners has announced three public meetings as required by Georgia law due to a change in the Millage rate that will result in an increase in property taxes.

The proposed millage rate was discussed Thursday night at the Walker County Board of Commissioners, along with the county’s proposed general budget for fiscal year 2023. The county’s $31.6 million budget will be approved by the commission along with the approved new Millage rate at final meeting scheduled for September 1st.

“We’re looking at how much real estate valuations have gone up,” Shannon Whitfield, chair of the Walker County Board of Commissioners, said at the meeting. “And the average home appraisal is up about 25% in our county over the past year, they tell us. This (Millage rate) represents that rollback to offset the inflationary factor of property value increases.”

There will be public sessions on the Mill Set on Thursday, August 25 at 8:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. and on Thursday, September 1 at 6:30 p.m. The August 25 morning session will be held at the Walker County Civic Center (10052 Highway 27, Rock Spring), and both evening sessions will be held at the Walker County Courthouse Annex III (201 S Main St., LaFayette).

The proposed millage rate of 7,200 mills in the unincorporated county represents a decrease from the 2021 rate of 8,313 mills. In the incorporated areas of the county, the proposed rate of 10,293 mills represents a decrease from the prior year rate of 11,963 mills, according to a Walker County news release.

(READ MORE: Catoosa County, Georgia residents propose cuts to avoid a property tax hike)

Although the tax rate may decrease, the taxes paid would increase on average due to the increase in real estate values.

For a home with a fair market value of $225,000, the proposed Millage rate would result in a property tax increase of approximately $34.92 in the unincorporated area and $34.58 in incorporated areas.

The proposed general budget for fiscal year 2023 was published on Thursday. The 2023 financial year begins on October 1st.

According to research by Catoosa County Chief Financial Officer Rachel Clark, Walker County has the lowest millage rate in Northwest Georgia. Catoosa County has the second-lowest Millage rate proposal at 7.348 million, while Dade County proposes a rate of 8.0 million and Whitfield County — including its special tax district — a rate of 10.75 million.

Commissioner Whitfield said Walker County’s budget included a $2.2 million increase over the fiscal 2021 budget. of the proposed budget increase are staff-related costs”.

Whitfield said there have been two recent pay increases for hourly county employees: $1.20 in April and an additional 80 cents included in the proposed budget. Everyone is feeling the pressure of increased costs right now, he said, and this increase will “help us (the county) be more competitive in the marketplace” and retain employees.

The detailed budget and summary can both be found on the county’s website.

(READ MORE: Walker County to Hold Public Hearings on Reduced Millage Rate)

Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney Chris Arnt said he came to testify at the commission meeting to explain why he is asking for an increased budget. He said he has seen increases in the state pension plan, the salary scale for state employees and other benefits.

The Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit includes Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade and Walker counties. Arnt said the circuit is funded by both the state and counties.

Three new assistant prosecutors are poised to be hired, Arnt said, two “fresh” out of law school and one who has been working in Atlanta for a few years.

“All prosecutors across the state face a historic shortage of district attorneys,” he said. “We’ve had four short for over a year.”

Walker County had to delay the first Millage Rate meetings because the law requires the published ad to be 30 inches square—and when it ran in a local paper, it was 2 1/2 inches too small. The county was forced to restart the process, Whitfield said.

Contact Andrew Wilkins at awilkins@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659. Follow him on Twitter @tweetatwilkins.

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