Property tax bills were sent out Friday to Columbia County residents, despite the uncertainty generated by Gov. Sonny Perdue's plan to withhold $428 million from the Homestead Tax Relief Grant.
Without the tax credit, the county will lose $1.45 million, the school system will lose $2.8 million, Grovetown $47,000 and Harlem $19,000, Columbia County Tax Commissioner Kay Allen said.
Allen said she believes it is too late for any of those entities to make up the shortfall through a tax hike. She said they will have to dip into reserves or cut services.
"The money has got to come from somewhere," she said.
Commission Chairman Ron Cross said last week that the county likely will look to its reserve fund for relief. He said the commission intended to meet with Allen this week to discuss the issue.
School system Controller Pat Sullivan said Thursday that school officials have not yet discussed options for recovering the lost funding.
The tax credit was established more than a decade ago by former Gov. Roy Barnes, Allen said. It was created as a means to offer property tax relief to Georgians without altering homestead exemptions.
Allen is hopeful that state legislators might offer some property tax relief to make up for the governor's cuts when they convene again in January.
"We may have to wait until next year to receive it, but I think we will receive this money," she said.
The deadline to pay property taxes in Columbia County is Nov. 15. Bills must be in the tax office by that date, not just postmarked by Nov. 15.
Taxes collected after the deadline will be assessed a penalty of 1 percent per month until paid. An additional 10 percent penalty will be charged to those 90 days delinquent.
Taxes can be paid through the Internet at www.columbiacountyga.gov/taxcommissioner with a credit card or by calling (866) 381-4893. Payments may also be delivered to drop boxes to the left of Building A and on the north side of Building B of the county Government Complex, 630 Ronald Reagan Drive, Evans.
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