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Decatur may need to increase millage rate to pay for purchase of Children’s Home campus

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Decatur may need to increase millage rate to pay for purchase of Children’s Home campus

The former United Methodist Children's Home campus in Decatur. The campus is now called Legacy Park. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

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The United Methodist Children’s Home in Decatur. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

The city of Decatur in 2017 paid a hefty price of $40 million for the 77-acre United Methodist Children’s Home campus.

While the city got a valuable future asset, the price limited what the city can do with the property. The planning process envisions a dependency on partnerships to help the property reach its full potential.

In the meantime, the city has to pay down the debt it acquired when it bought the campus.

That’s where the taxpayers come in.


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At the City Commission’s May 21 meeting, Assistant City Manager Andrea Arnold said the city is proposing a .49 percent millage increase, taking the city’s overall millage rate to 13.98 mills.

“The proposed increase in the Capital Improvement Fund millage rate is just under one-half of a mill which will generate about $1.3 million in tax revenue,” Arnold told commissioners. “The additional revenue is needed to make the debt service payments on the Public Facilities Authority (PFA) revenue bond issuance and the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority loan, both of which were used to purchase the 77-acre Children’s Home property. A transfer of $1 million from the General Fund to the PFA Fund will also contribute to the debt service obligation. The proposed .49 mill increase in the tax rate results in an increase of $110 for an owner of a property with a fair market value of $500,000.””

Arnold said the millage rate is based on the assumption of a 6 percent growth in the tax digest. The city hasn’t received the official word on how much the tax digest will increase, so it’s possible the millage increase will be lower.

“Right now that’s assuming a 6 percent increase in the digest,” Arnold said. “We haven’t received the final digest from the county. If it’s much higher than that, it’s possible that increase of .49 mill that could possibly go down slightly.”

The state’s Truth in Taxation law requires cities to advertise a tax increase even when the millage does not go up.

“The purpose of the legislation is to require local governments to either rollback the millage rate equal to the total value of reassessments on real property; or, to provide advertisements, notice and public hearings if the local government intends to adopt a millage rate in excess of the ‘rollback’ rate,” Arnold said. “Depending on the ratio of new value to revaluation in the 2018 digest, the city may or may not need to advertise a tax increase. This information should be available once the county adopts the digest.”

For more information about the proposed millage rate increase, click here.

Editor’s note: This story was reported by watching an online video stream of the City Commission meeting. 

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