Ask The Mayor

February 13, 2010 by  
Filed under Ask The Mayor, Community

This month’s question:  How do I know how much money I pay to the City of Tybee in property taxes?

For whatever reason, the powers that be have devised a mechanism for calculating property tax bills that is relatively complex.  Be that as it may, the Tybee mill rate is currently about 3.7.  To calculate your tax rate for Tybee municipal taxes, you take the value of your home, business or land (according to the county’s determination as to it’s value) and multiply it by .4 (you are taxed on 40% of the assessed value).  This number is then multiplied by the mill rate.  So, for example, if your home is valued at $400,000, this number is multiplied by .4 equaling $160,000.  This number is then multiplied by .0037 ( a “mill” is a tenth of a cent).  This gives you your taxes owed to the City of Tybee, in this case $592.00.

However, of course, this doesn’t take into account homestead exemptions. If your property is owner-occupied and is not used for business purposes, it generally qualifies for homestead exemptions.  The most significant of these is the county-wide Stephens-Day exemption, named for the authors of the legislation which created the exemption, State Representatives Burke Day and Ron Stephens.  It essentially locks in the value of your home at the time you purchase it.  So in the example above, if the home currently valued at $400,000 was valued at $200,000 at the time of purchase, then there is a $200,000 exemption on the property and for tax purpsoes it is valued at $200,000 as opposed to $400,000.

Also, in 2003, the City of Tybee enacted a $200,000 exemption for Tybee city taxes.  So again using the example above, since the home has a locked-in value of $200,000, the home owner pays $0 to the City.  About half the homeowners on Tybee have homes with a locked-in value less than $200,000 and pay nothing to the City in property taxes.  There are also additional senior citizen and other exemptions.  I have talked to many property owners who wait a few years to go to the County to sign up for the homestead exemptions that they are entitled to.  Because of Stepehens-Day (at least up until recently), this delay costs these folks thousands of dollars over the long haul.  I should also add that the millage rate referenced above does not include county and school tax rates, which are about 10.5 and 13.5, respectively.  Given Tybee’s relatively low millage rate coupled with the $200,000 exemption, the proportion of taxes paid to the City relative to that paid to other governmental entities is fairly small.  This is why we work very hard to recoup as much county, state and federal funds as possible for various projects on our Island.

Thanks for the great question!
Jason Buelterman

Send questions to “Ask the Mayor,” City of Tybee Island, P.O. Box 2749, Tybee Island, GA 31328, or e-mail them with an “Ask the Mayor” header to buelterman@hotmail.com.

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