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Georgia Senate passes bill to limit property tax increases

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(The Center Square) — The Georgia Senate passed a measure to limit to no more than 3% the year-to-year home valuation increases used to calculate property taxes.

Lawmakers voted 42-7 to pass Senate Bill 349, the “Save Our Homes” Act. The measure changes public notice provisions about a local government’s plan to increase property taxes and changes the process to appeal a tax assessor’s valuation for local property taxes.

“Our goal has always been to keep costs low for Georgia families,” Lt. Governor Burt Jones said in a statement. “Senate Bill 349 limits increases in property taxes year to year, reforms the appeals process, and allows for more transparency in our taxation procedures. This bill will make the taxation process both less confusing and less expensive for Georgia taxpayers.”

SB 349 also alters the information required in the annual notice of a homeowner’s current assessment and changes the valuation settlement conference process.

State Sen. Nikki Merritt, D-Grayson, citing Gwinnett County, expressed concerns about how the measure might impact school board budgets and said local legislation would be the best way to address the issue.

“We should consider that legislation like this is best handled by our local bodies and our local school boards and working with our counties,” Merritt said during the debate on the Senate floor.

“Their concern is districts are going to have a challenge keeping teacher salaries in line with inflation,” Merritt added. “There’s already a national teacher shortage, and currently, over time, this would exacerbate that shortage as teachers would … be outpaced by the industries. Districts would be forced to increase millage rates to make up for the lost … digest growth. However, there is a cap on the maximum millage rates for most districts.”

The Association of County Commissioners of Georgia supported the measure.

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