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Increase expected on 2009 tax bills
State cant afford homestead exemption grant
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Homeowners can expect to pay between $200 and $300 more on their property taxes due to the cancellation of the state’s homestead exemption for 2009.


Due to declining revenue during the current recession, the state cannot afford to cover the state homestead exemption grant, which gave an annual tax relief credit to many Georgia homeowners.


“It’s unfortunate in slow economic times to have to deliver this message,” said Dawson County Tax Commissioner Linda Townley.


While property tax bills will be higher this year and next year, Dawson County has not called for a tax increase.


“The increase homeowners will see on their bill is not a tax increase. The state has in the past covered that amount and because of declines in revenue, they cannot do the same this year,” said County Manager Kevin Tanner.


Dawson County has not had a tax increase in the last five years.


The Dawson County Board of Commissioners adopted the county’s portion of the  millage rate at 8.138 earlier this year.


That percentage, combined with the school system’s portion of the millage, equals 22.184, the same rate it has been for the last five years. A mill is equal to $1 for each $1,000 in assessed property value.


Appropriated by the General Assembly and the governor for the last several years, legislation passed this year only allows for the grant’s disbursement in the future if state revenues grow by at least 3 percent, plus the rate of inflation.


Townley encourages homeowners to prepare for the increase now, before tax bills are issued later this year.


“Homeowners need to know now so they can plan accordingly with their household budgets or make sure that tax escrows are properly funded with their mortgage companies to handle the tax increase,” she said.