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Guest Column: Understanding property assessments
Carter Infinger
Carter Infinger is the current chairman of the Bryan County Commission.

Carter Infinger

Bryan County Commission Chairman

The 2024 Property Assessment Notices for Bryan County residents were mailed out on June 18, 2024. My fellow commissioners and I have received significant feedback regarding the increase in property taxes that some residents are facing. I feel it is essential to address these concerns and explain not only how property taxes are calculated but also how the Board of Commissioners has consistently taken steps to mitigate these tax increases. 

Each year the Bryan County Board of Commissioners sets the property tax rate, commonly referred to as the millage rate. You may also be familiar with the term “rollback” rate. Bryan County has rolled back its millage rate for the past 8 years. In 2016, the millage rate was 9.185 mills on the assessed value of property within the county. The rate as of September 5, 2023, is 6.655 mills. The goal of the rollback is to keep the amount of taxes paid by each household the same as the previous year, even though the actual valuation of the property may have gone up. The Board of Commissioners does not set a property valuation. That is the job of the Board of Assessors, which bases those valuations on recent sales of similar properties in the area.

The ability to rollback this millage rate is thanks in part to SPLOST and TSPLOST funds that are each 1% sales taxes charged on goods and services bought within Bryan County. These sales taxes are paid by non-residents as well, making them ideal ways to fund needed infrastructure. TSPLOST, Transportation -Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, can only be used for repairs or improvements to roads or bridges, and SPLOST can be used to pay for recreation, public safety vehicles, and more.

One mill in Bryan County now equals $6.655 per $1000 of assessed property value. That property value, or the fair market value, is calculated by the Bryan County Tax Assessor each year and is based on many factors. The main factors considered are property size, structure size, and comparable sales data of surrounding homes. However, when taxes are determined yearly, only 40% of that fair market value is taxed.

For example, if you have a $300,000 property, only 40% or $120,000 of that property is taxed annually. In this example, the annual Bryan County portion of taxes, 6.655 mills, would be roughly $798. These taxes are typically referred to as Maintenance and Operations funds, and in Bryan County go to pay for public safety, courts, and many other county services.

It is also important to remember that the school system and cities of Pembroke and Richmond Hill each have their own millage rates. Each of those boards make the decision whether or not to take the rollback rate each year. The school system millage is assessed countywide, but you must live within the city limits to have the additional city millage rate applied to your taxes. Below is a list of the current millage rates:

• Bryan County Government: 6.655 mills

• Bryan County Schools: 15.075 mills

• Richmond Hill: 4.132 mills

• Pembroke: 9.36 mills There are ways to lower your tax bill each year. Homeowners with primary residences located in Bryan County can apply for homestead exemptions. The primary exemption offers a $30,000 reduction to the County or City portion of property taxes for those under 65.

A $50,000 exemption is available to those over 65. All exemptions must be applied for by January 1, for the following tax year at the Tax Commissioners offices in Richmond Hill or Pembroke.

We understand that any increase in taxes can be challenging for our residents, especially during these times of elevated inflation. As your elected officials, and as your neighbors and fellow community members, we genuinely feel this impact alongside you. We are committed to making thoughtful decisions that ensure the smooth functioning of our local government while avoiding unnecessary burdens on taxpayers. This is why the Board has consistently adopted the rollback rate, prioritizing your well-being and financial stability.

Carter Infinger is the current Bryan County Commission Chairman.

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