Property in Bibb County lost nearly $300 million in value last year, leading to a declining tax base and lower revenues for local governments.
The 2010 tax digest shows Bibb County lost $297 million overall in real and personal property value, dropping to about $11.866 billion. Losses were led by the county’s industrial properties, which dropped at a rate of 9.2 percent countywide, shedding some $92 million in value.
The numbers are causing consternation in local governments, though officials are not predicting tax increases. Bibb County school board President Gary Bechtel said Monday the school system expects to set its millage rate Thursday night and doesn’t expect a change from last year’s rate.
Bibb County and Macon leaders said their tax collection figures are close to what they’d budgeted. Bibb County Commissioner Elmo Richardson and Macon Councilman Mike Cranford said they don’t expect a tax increase or service cuts because the shortfall was close to the amount they’d expected.
Bibb County Chief Appraiser Andrea Crutchfield said much of the loss in value was from personal property, rather than in real estate. People haven’t been buying big-ticket items as much as they had been, and businesses haven’t been replacing equipment that typically depreciates about 10 percent a year, Crutchfield said.
“It’s not a pretty picture,” Crutchfield said.
In reality, Bibb County’s property values aren’t as bad as the tax digest numbers say. A state moratorium on revaluations allows increases only on new construction, but requires decreases for properties that lost value. Assessors downgraded the value of 25 subdivisions this year.
Overall, properties in the unincorporated parts of Bibb County fared worse than those within Macon’s city limits.
Residential properties held the most value, losing about 1.18 percent countywide and 0.93 percent in Macon. Commercial properties fell 2.6 percent countywide and 1.26 percent in Macon. Industrial properties fell 9.21 percent countywide and 1.86 percent in Macon.
Georgia governments set their tax rate based on the 40-percent value of property, so a $100,000 home is taxed as if it were worth $40,000. The 40-percent figures were used in a story in Tuesday’s Telegraph about the school system. Figures in this story are at 100 percent of valuation.
After exemptions are considered, Bibb County’s tax base fell 2.36 percent and Macon’s fell 1.19 percent.
Exact figures for the tax difference for Macon and Bibb County were not available Tuesday. Both governments’ top elected official, chief administrative officer and finance director were an emergency management training session Tuesday.
Richardson said that “2.4 percent will be pretty close to what we projected. We won’t have a problem.”
Cranford expected the city’s budget wouldn’t need to be changed when the city sets its millage tax rate in two weeks.
“It’s not going to be a significant change to make us want to alter the budget in any kind of way,” Cranford said. “We’ll just continue to be prudent with our spending and we’ll be OK.”
Telegraph writer Julie Hubbard contributed to this report. To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.