County Looks at Increase on the 2025 Budget & Property Taxes

Photo of the Henry County Administration Building in McDonough on a sunny day with cloud coverage (Clayton Carte photo).
(Clayton Carte photo)

Henry County is considering four options when discussing the 2025 budget & property taxes. The county staff presented the possible scenarios during a budget hearing on Tuesday, May 7.

The board of commissioners will hold a second budget hearing on Thursday, May 30, at 5:30 pm. They will consider adopting the budget afterwards.

2025 Budget & Property Taxes

The county’s revised FY 2024 budget has expenses of $238.99 million dollars. Henry County is considering a 2025 budget with $259.7 million in expenses.

Based on the county’s current revenue sources, they are estimating $252.7 million in revenues. This leaves a budget shortfall of seven million dollars. To cover this shortfall, and support the county’s growth, staff have prepared four possible scenarios.

The potential scenarios range from no increase in the millage rate to a 3-mill increase in property taxes. Finance staff are recommending the board adopt the 3-mill increase. This would generate the county an additional $23.8 million in revenue.

Presentation slide providing an overview of the county’s options concerning property taxes in 2025 (Henry County presentation).
(Henry County presentation)

The 3-mill increase would pay for maintaining county services to keep up with current population growth. There would be a surplus of $17 million dollars for capital projects and operational needs. The county is looking at several major projects during the next five years, such as building a new courthouse, fire training center, E-911 center and jail pod.

The other options include raising the fire & police millage rates by 1.925 mills, or raising the fire millage rate by 2.5 mills. The intermediate options support investment into public safety, but omit new personnel and capital funding for other departments.

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Impact on Residents

A millage rate increase affects residents based on their property values. A homeowners’ homestead exemption also affects it, because the county has a frozen exemption. The frozen exemption allows homeowners to pay county government taxes based on their home’s value when they bought it, not its present-day value. The county shared last month that the frozen exemption saved homeowners $34 million dollars in 2023.

Please note the frozen exemption does not apply to school board taxes. Homeowners will continue to see changes in their school board taxes. At age 62, they can receive the school district’s senior exemptions to reduce their tax bill. The senior exemption gradually reduces a homeowner’s school taxes until a complete reduction at age 70.

For a non-homestead property valued at $500,000 located in unincorporated Henry County, a three-mill increase would result in a $600 tax increase. This is fifty dollars per month. For homestead properties, the tax increase varies based on when the homeowner bought their home.

Calculate Your Impact

Photo shows an example tax assessment with the column and row highlighted to determine a property owner’s net taxable value on county taxes (MHF News graphic).
(MHF News graphic)

To calculate your potential impact, reference your assessment notice. Property owners are receiving their 2024 notices this week. Complete the following steps:

  1. Look at the “Net Taxable” column and the ”County / Unincorp.” row.
  2. Multiply the value found in this block by the below value:
    1. Unincorporated residents: 0.003
    2. Hampton, Locust Grove and Stockbridge residents: 0.000469
    3. McDonough residents: 0.000658
  3. This reflects your increase in property taxes if the board adopts the 3-mill increase.

The amount varies between unincorporated residents and city residents because of the special service districts. City residents do not pay into the county’s police services nor unincorporated services district.

In addition, McDonough residents see a different value because the city has a fire department. McDonough homeowners have not paid property taxes to the county fire department in years’ past. They will pay a reduced rate (45%) into the county fire district beginning this year. McDonough and Henry County agreed to this provision in December 2020; however, its not been implemented before now.

Board Comments

Following staff’s presentation, the county commissioners offered their remarks. Henry County Chair Carlotta Harrell expressed her support for county staff. “The [staff’s] workload has increased, but the help has not…In order for us to operate the county effectively and efficiently, we have to make sure our departments are funded.”

Commissioners Dee Anglyn and Kevin Lewis shared their perspectives. “Our greatest duty that we have here is our fiduciary duty to the county,” remarked Anglyn. Commissioner Lewis said “we have a duty to make sure we prepare for the future. The goal of each commissioner should be that we leave it better for their successor.” Lewis thanked county staff for presenting the four options. He commented residents can see how each option affects them.

Commissioner Neat Robinson asked about the county’s financial audits. Staff shared the county’s 2022 audit is nearly complete. They will then start the 2023 audit this summer. It is county staff’s goal to complete the 2023 and 2024 audits by December so they are caught up. Commissioner Robinson expressed her belief that constituents should not bear a tax increase until the county is caught up on its audits.

Commissioner Johnny Wilson spoke at length about increasing development impact fees instead of property taxes. ”We need to be collecting our maximum impact fees,” offered Wilson. Right now, the county collects about $3,500 in impact fees per new home in unincorporated Henry County. The county’s impact fee study, last updated in 2022, found it could charge up to $10 thousand dollars. Also worth mentioning the county does not levy impact fees on new homes built inside the cities. Impact fees go towards paying for capital projects.

Finally, Commissioner Wilson inquired about capital projects on the upcoming SPLOST VI referendum. The county has not yet determined which projects it will include on the November referendum.

Next Steps

The county has one more budget hearing before adopting the 2025 budget. The hearing will be on Thursday, May 30, at 5:30 pm. Please know this is a new date from what was first announced. The hearing will be at the county admin building. It is located at 140 Henry Parkway in McDonough.

Residents can speak on the budget at the May 30 meeting. The board will consider adopting the county budget afterwards. Subsequent hearings will follow in July to approve the millage rate.

Featured image shows the Henry County Admin Building. Clayton Carte photo.

About Clayton 1482 Articles
Clayton Carte is the founder and owner of MHF News. He founded the site in 2017 to highlight transportation projects. Over time, he began covering other topics like new development so residents can best know what’s happening in our community.