Thursday, June 27, 2013

Three DeKalb cities propose millage rate increases

The city councils of Stone Mountain, Brookhaven, and Avondale Estates have all tentatively adopted millage rate increases that would increase property taxes in those communities.

Avondale Estates proposed an increase of 1.75 mills, which would increase property taxes there by about 17 percent. Stone Mountain tentatively adopted an increase of 6.211 mills, or 28 percent, and will have a public hearing on July 2. Brookhaven is considering a 3.35 millage rate which would replace taxes previously levied by DeKalb, with a final vote scheduled for July 8.

Decatur’s City Commission adopted a budget on June 17 that kept millage rates the same as last year.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fewer homeowners receive age-80 exemption in 2013

While there has been an increase over the past five years in the number of Decatur residents who qualify for age-based homestead exemptions in their sixties and seventies, the number of property owners who qualify for the age-80 or “S2” exemption appears to be flat-lining or declining slightly.

This graph shows age and income-based exemptions with the bright green line at the bottom showing the trend for the number of residents with the S2 exemption:

All resident homeowners can qualify for a basic homestead exemption.  Homeowners in Decatur begin qualifying for additional property tax exemptions depending on their age and income after they turn 62.  Residents who are 80 or older as of January 1 may qualify for the S2 exemption which exempts them from paying school taxes if the federal adjusted gross income of the owner and the owner’s spouse is less than $40,000 a year.

About 210 residents received the S2 each year from 2008 to 2011, but that number fell to 197 in 2012 and 188 this year, suggesting that there may be somewhat fewer people remaining in their houses into their eighties, or that more elderly residents exceed the income limit for the age 80 exemption.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Grace period for tax payments expires today

Decatur's first installment property tax bills for 2013 were due on June 3.  No penalties or interest have been added to accounts yet, but this grace period ends today.  Please mail your check to:
     City of Decatur
     PO Box 945650
     Atlanta, GA  30394-5650
We honor postmarks, so there is no need to overnight your payment.
Unpaid balances as of tomorrow will be subject to a 10 percent penalty and 1 percent interest.

Monday, June 10, 2013

How Decatur compares in online payments

The City of Decatur accepted approximately $1.4 million in online payments from July 2011 to June 2012.  This included 9,000 separate web-based transactions involving $600K in fees for recreation and after-school programs, $500K in court fines and fees, and $300K for property taxes.

The Center for Performance Management reports that the average volume of payments made last year was $482,140 for cities like ours with populations under 25,000, suggesting that more payments are made online to Decatur compared to other cities our size.  However, online payments to municipalities can vary significantly depending on whether the jurisdiction does its own tax or utility billing.  For example, the City of Cartersville, Georgia, took in over $4 million in online payments last year, but that included online payments for electric, water and sewer bills.  Decatur does its own tax billing but does not do utility billing.

Online payment options are offered to provide convenience for individuals and businesses making payments to the city.  The Revenue Division intends to expand online payment options by allowing businesses to renew their licenses online beginning this fall.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tax payment grace period offered

Decatur's first installment property tax bills for 2013 were due yesterday.  But if you haven't mailed your check in yet, you're in luck--no penalties or interest will be added to accounts until June 17.
Please drop your check in the mail to the City of Decatur at PO Box 945650, Atlanta GA  30394-5650 or come by and see us before then.