(The Center Square) — Earlier this year, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed House Bill 118 and House Bill 622 to triple Bartow County’s homestead tax exemptions for school and county ad valorem taxes.
But property owners across the Peach State have seen their property tax bills balloon. State Rep. Matthew Gambill, R-Cartersville, spoke with The Center Square recently about property taxes and what action state lawmakers might take.
Property taxes are on the rise across the state. What is the state doing to crack down on the increase?
This past year we were able to provide the property tax relief grant, which the citizens in the state that own a home [can use for this year’s bill]. As far as discussions about doing that again for next year, … I’m not sure yet if we’re going to do that or not. But certainly, there’s a lot of things that are on the table to talk about how do we minimize the amount of the increase on a given year because what most Georgians experienced this year was a pretty rapid increase.
A property owner might say the values are going up and governments are raking in more from their taxes. It seems almost a little bit unfair as a property owner. Would you say that’s fair?
The valuation increase is great if you’re going to sell your house, but if you’re not planning to sell your house, it really is a moot point. I talked to a lot of property owners here in Bartow that they’re on a fixed income, maybe they’re retired, and they’re really struggling to pay property tax. … I’ve encouraged them to appeal if they disagree with the valuation of their home. And then another thing I’ve encouraged a lot of them to do is to break their mortgage payments off of escrow and to try and budget and control that a little bit better.
Is there a better way that the state should be looking at how cities and counties fund themselves versus property taxes?
That’s all a part of the conversation that we’re having right now. Our Lieutenant Governor [Burt Jones] campaigned on eliminating the state income tax, and that’s certainly a part of the conversations that we’re having in Atlanta to see, as far as taxation goes, what’s the most equitable way to do that? … We’ve always believed that a low but broad tax is the best way to approach things. That’s something that we keep in mind as well. But this is something that I believe will be addressed this legislative session.
By T.A. DeFeo | The Center Square contributor