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Avondale Estates City Commission considering lowering the millage rate

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Avondale Estates City Commission considering lowering the millage rate

FILE PHOTO: The Avondale Estates City Commission discussed lowering the millage rate during its regular meeting on June 28, 2023, at City Hall. Photo by Zoe Seiler.

Avondale Estates, GA — The Avondale Estates City Commission is unanimous in its desire to lower the millage rate and provide some tax relief to residents. Mayor Jonathan Elmore suggested a reduction of 0.25 mills during the commission’s regular meeting on June 28.

The millage rate has remained the same over the past five years.

The city commission will hold the final public hearing and vote on the millage rate on Thursday, June 29, at 6 p.m., at Avondale Estates City Hall, 21 N. Avondale Plaza. To join the meeting on Thursday via Zoom, click here. To call in, dial +1-301-715-8592. The webinar ID is 857 5339 5460.

Elmore, Commissioner Lisa Shortell and Commissioner Dee Merriam were in agreement with the 0.25 reduction. Commissioner Lionel Laratte advocated for a reduction of one mill. He acknowledged that would be unlikely but pushed for a larger decrease than 0.25 mills.

“The reason behind that is that I appreciate the effort, the patience, and the support that residents have put into our development of the downtown,” Laratte said. “It’s taken a lot of work and I think that residents should see some of that return that was promised.”

He added that residents wouldn’t see much relief with a decrease of 0.25 mills.

“I think our residents deserve something a bit more,” Laratte said. “I don’t propose that we reduce city staff or anything else like that to fund this, but I do propose that we think about delaying some of the projects that we have currently online in order to fund this.”

Elmore said he aims to start a trend of incremental decreases in the millage rate.

“I was hoping to do incremental decreases over time as revenue and new projects came online. COVID kind of disrupted some of that,” Elmore said.

During various public comment opportunities during the city commission meetings, one resident suggested a millage rate of 9.3 mills.

City Manager Patrick Bryant also gave a presentation on the city’s finances during the millage rate public hearing. The city must meet its operating requirements and debt service in its financial plans.

“We also need to consider what vehicles and equipment we’re going to need to maintain, is that going to change because of the age of the vehicle, are we adding any property, has any property changed to the effect that our maintenance responsibilities for it have changed,” Bryant said. “Then consider new projects and strategic investments. We take all of those things together in order to begin discussing and building an annual budget.”

The city’s main source of revenue comes from property taxes.

“Real property tax is generated by assessing the value of property and then applying a taxation rate, known as a millage rate, to that assessment in order to generate revenue from each property contained within the city,” Bryant said.

One mill equates to $1 owed for every $1,000 of assessed property value. DeKalb County appraises all properties in the city, and properties are taxed based on an assessed value that is 40% of the appraised value.

In Avondale Estates, a home with an appraised value of $300,000 would have an assessed value of $120,000, and would pay $1,176 in property taxes at a millage rate of 9.8 mills.

This year’s preliminary draft tax digest projected $3.4 million in property tax revenue. The gross tax digest for Avondale Estates increased to $390 million, Bryant said.

“There are $43 million worth of exemptions, meaning taxes that aren’t owed because properties are exempt from those taxes,” he added.

There are several factors driving the increase in the preliminary tax digest, including 26 new residential properties that ave an assessed value and applied and will have taxes due.

“We also had an assessed value increase of $4 million in our commercial district,” Bryant said. “As properties are selling, and more properties in the city are selling now, reappraisals of those properties and surrounding properties due to comps are starting to happen.”

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