Dunwoody had the highest county millage hike at 15.25 percent. Doraville, Chamblee and Stone Mountain were issued the next highest — each coming in a shade under 10 percent.
City representatives have met with the DeKalb Board of Commissioners to discuss the matter, including an Aug. 28 meeting with the latter’s Finance, Audit and Budget Committee.
“Cities are asking thoughtful questions and expressing concerns over the rise in the county-wide millage rate,” said Dunwoody City Manager Warren Hutmacher. “It has steadily risen while the tax rates for police, roads and parks have dropped.
“The cities are asking for an
explanation for the changes in rates and a methodology to verify that the cities who do not participate in the special tax districts for parks, police and roads are not paying anything for these services through the county-wide rate.”
The county is preparing a response to their questions and concerns, Hutmacher noted.
County-wide, the property tax rate increased by 1.45 mills in 2011 and by 1.6 mills in 2012.
Joel Gottlieb, DeKalb County’s chief financial officer, told city reps at the Aug. 28 meeting he expects that trend to continue next year.
“Our millages have increased, but the percentage of the increase has been very minimal,” Gottlieb said. “It’s not like we’re trying to build up big balances … and we have kept within the 11.37 rollback rate.”
County millages are based on the fiscal year budget, beginning with the version adopted in February then adapted mid-year for increases or decreases in available funds.
“From there, you reduce the budget by non-tax revenue … then we determine the net amount, divided by digest, and that’s basically what we need for taxes,” Gottlieb said.
He added DeKalb’s cities have an elected basic and/or non-basic rate, with the exception of Dunwoody, which has no backup.
“What we do is figure out what the cities have selected and then determine what is required,” Gottlieb said.
City residents continue to pay for county-wide operations, MARTA, Grady Hospital and debt service on previously issued parks and green space bonds.
“Cities have an option to pay the county through tax bills for police, roads and parks,” Hutmacher said. “By statute, Dunwoody does not pay nor receive services from DeKalb County for these services.”