by Robin Kemp

The Clayton County Board of Education is holding two millage rate hearings today, Monday August 9, at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Another hearing is scheduled for August 16 at 5:30 p.m.

The board wants to maintain the current 20-mil rate in order to meet its budgetary plans to serve the county’s 52,000 students. The rate itself is unchanged but, based on increased property values in the county, represents a tax increase.

The executive summary of the approved tentative budget for 2021-2022 budget shows CCBOE used the anticipated property value increase as a factor in its planning for the $767.7 million budget:

Projected fund allocations for the 2021-2022 school budget.

The school system also is getting funding from other sources.

For example, the state Department of Education restored funds that represent a 5% increase in Quality Basic Education (QBE) funding for the county. Clayton County Schools also are “receiving additional multi-year Special Revenue funding from the Federal Government CARES and ARRA Acts. CCPS will use the funds to offset some district fixed costs, if determined to be allowable under the grants.”

However, the district has less money coming in and more going out, despite cuts.

the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia (TRS) will cost another $2.6 million this year, because the employer contribution rate has gone up .75% to 19.81%. The school board cut $33.6 million in capital projects due to the drop in sales tax collections due to COVID-19. Departmental spending “remain flat” and the districts’s share of state health benefit costs did not change.

Millage rates might not change but if your property value goes up or down, the amount of taxes you are assessed go up or down as well. A mil is 1/1000 of a dollar. That means you pay 1 mil for every $1,000 of the assessed property value. You are not taxed on the full fair market value of your home–only on the first 40%. It’s the same principle as a percentage (1/100), except a mil is a smaller fraction.

If you own a home, or if your landlord owns the home where you live, that means CCBOE would get $20 in taxes. for every $1,000 of the assessed value of that home. The assessed value in Clayton County is 40% of fair market value.

What your property tax bill looks like if you live in one of the municipalities. In this example, both years’ millage rate on this property are set at 20 mils. However, because the appraised (fair market) value of the property went up, the homeowner would pay more taxes in the second year. The millage rate applies to the “40% Assessed Value” number. The “School M&O” taxing authority is the Clayton County Board of Education. In this example, you can see that both the county and the school taxes include a $10,000 homestead exemption, while the state and municipality (Forest Park) do not.

Say the Clayton County Tax Assessor estimates your home’s fair market value at $100,000. The county only levies taxes on the first 40% of that value, which would be $40,000.

At the 20-mil rate, that means the school system gets $20 x 40 = $800 for the year.

However, property values have gone up significantly for many homeowners this year. Say your $100,000 house is now worth $135,000. That means you would be taxed on $54,000, which is 40% of the fair market value. At $20 per thousand x 54, your school tax bill would still be 20 mils but the dollar amount in taxes would be $1,080.

School tax exemptions

Homeowners who actually live in their homes as of January 1 of the tax year) can apply for one of several school tax exemptions:



How to get a tax exemption

All property owners who live in their property as of Jan. 1 can get $10,000 off their school property tax by applying for the regular homestead exemption.

If you are a senior citizen, you have a few school tax exemption options:

  • If you are 62 as of January 1 of the tax filing year and your taxable income is $10,000 or less, you can get a $14,000 school exemption.
  • If you are 65 as of January 1 of the tax filing year, your house and up to five (5) acres of property, you can get a $10,000 school exemption by age.

If you are 100% disabled, no matter what your age is, and your total gross household income for the previous year is $30,000 or less, then you can get a $10,000 exemption off the school tax for your house and up to five (5) acres. You will have to show letters from two (2) Georgia doctors that state what your disability is.

Make your voice heard

School Board Chair Jessie Goree emphasized that the board would not address any questions about the school budget (the board already held budget hearings) or any other school-related issues during the millage rate hearings. Comments, she said, must pertain strictly to the proposed millage rate.

You can attend the hearings in person at 1058 Fifth Avenue, Jonesboro, but must fill out a survey at https://bit.ly/2ViiW0x and take a temperature check. Masks are required ans special seating is in effect.

You also can e-mail your public comment on the tax increase via e-mail to ccpsbudget@clayton.k12.ga.us. You must include your name and a phone number or e-mail address.

Join via Zoom at https://clayton-k12-ga-us.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_A_bGCGoITrG9dxba5BxKJg to be able to comment.

You can look up your property information (or anyone else’s–it’s a public record for most people) on the Clayton County Tax Assessor’s website at https://www.claytoncountyga.gov/government/tax-assessor/property-search-information.

See another explanation of how to calculate property taxes at zacks.com.

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