Brett 2 years, 10 months ago on Dacula mulls adding sanitation fees to property tax bills

I am the author of HB 291 that would prohibit the billing of any non-tax fee on our property tax bills.

Across the state of Georgia, some 20+ different non-tax fees are added to individual’s property tax bills. Those non-tax fees include such things as garbage and storm water, but also fees such as speed humps, street lights, nuisance abatement, paving district, subdivision improvement, and parking fees. The Georgia Municipal Association (representing cities) and the Association of County Commissioners (representing counties) agree that we will see more cities and counties using our property tax bills as collection mechanisms in the future and that the number and type of fees will only increase.

Local governments use the property tax bill as a collection mechanism for two stated reasons – reduce billing cost and increase collections. Lower billing costs is insignificant in relation to the revenue generated by the program. If the cost of a stamp to mail a bill makes the program unprofitable, that is a good indicator you have a poor program. In trying to address bad debt by some, local governments are putting at risk the property of all. Collections increase because if you fail to pay, you lose your home. That is right – your home is at risk for a garbage bill. Fail to pay just $1 of your total property tax bill that includes non-tax fees too and a lien will be filed against your home. In the extreme, your home may be sold on the court house steps – for a garbage bill.

The negatives to this type of billing far outweigh any benefit to the local government or citizen. They include:

• By including non-tax fees on property tax bills, underwriting requirements may increase making the purchase of a home more difficult;

• Including non-tax fees on property tax bills often results in the filing of an erroneous income tax return (the fees are normally not tax deductible);

• If you have an escrow account, your monthly escrow amount and thereby your monthly mortgage payment increases;

• Including non-tax fees on property tax bills expands the potential for fifa, lien, or non-judicial foreclosure of private property for non-tax fees.

I have copies of property tax bills from Georgia residents where the non-tax fees added to their property tax bills have reached as high as 45% of the total amount due.

I believe this is bad policy. There are other means to provide the services desired in a local community without putting one’s home at risk to do so. For me, it is simple – property taxes and only property taxes should appear on my property tax bill.

Here is a link to HB 291:

Brett Harrell Representative, District 106 404-966-5804