Operating your governments next year in Columbia County will cost almost $233 million.
The revenue for the $56.7 million to operate the county government, and the $176 million to pay for the county schools, will come from a variety of sources - some from individual homeowners, but the rest from the state and federal government, from user fees, from taxes on businesses and from sales taxes, among other places.
Understandably, though, property taxes on individual homes are the hottest of the hot buttons for local complaints. That's especially the case this year as homeowners are trying to figure out how, in a struggling economy, the county's tax assessor could decide their property is worth more - and thus make their tax bill higher.
But it's no mystery. Unlike many other areas of the country where an inflated housing market attracted speculators who created a housing bubble that went bust, the Augusta area has been insulated from the highs and lows.
Our area didn't experience the drastic run-up in property values the past few years, but it also means we haven't suffered a precipitous drop. That's because our community benefits from the market-stabilizing influences of Fort Gordon, the Savannah River Site and the Medical College of Georgia.
But while our community is insulated from swings in property values, we aren't protected from spiking fuel prices and the higher costs it adds to other products and services. Those are rising much faster than land values.
Unfortunately, government isn't insulated from those costs, either - one of the reasons school lunch prices are rising next year.
Homeowners who pay too much attention to national news coverage of a suffering economy might have a difficult time accepting any increase in the value of their local property.
But a relatively small rise of 5-8 percent in home values this year is reasonable. Homeowners who believe their reassessment is too high have every right to make their case on appeal. Just don't count on using the gloomy economic conditions in the rest of the country as evidence.
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