The Commission last week signed off on a $50 million payback to the cities over the next decade, an agreement that was the product of six months of negotiations.
The agreement is a follow-up to an original framework hammered out over three years that was finalized 10 years ago. That initial agreement was mandated by the landmark passage by the Georgia Legislature in 1997 of House Bill 489, which requires every county and its municipality to negotiate such an agreement every 10 years to ensure taxpayers aren’t being taxed twice for the same public services.
Examples are the fact that all cities have their own police departments, while also paying taxes to support the county public safety department.
“Whereas county police have jurisdiction in the city and there is some service that is being received, we want to be careful it’s not a full duplication of services and charges,” Acworth Mayor Tommy Allegood explained.
Other services that typically tend to be provided by both counties include parks, libraries and transportation, and thus fall under the agreement.
So the county each year will begin returning $4.5 million from its general fund to the cities, an amount that will be divided based on how much value each city contributes to the county’s property tax digest (the total assessed value of all taxable properties in the county).
“If (the property digest) was $100 million and Marietta was $40 million of that 100, they’d get 40 percent,” county finance director Jim Pehrson said.
The amount being returned is well up from the $2.5 million the cities received under the earlier agreement, due to increased population and demand on services.
Local taxes are low in Cobb — but that doesn’t mean residents enjoy being taxed twice for the same services. So the agreement in question is a welcome one.