Businesses in Cobb County that find themselves in the new “Cumberland Special Services District II” may get an even bigger surprise come September when they get their tax bills. Not only will the new Braves Stadium tax subsidy increase real property tax bills, it will also increase personal property tax bills.
This new tax was promoted in a way that many assume it will simply be an additional tax on real estate on businesses that are in the Cumberland Community Improvement District (CCID). When the County released their new spreadsheet to show the taxes parcels and the estimated amount of tax revenue for 2014, there was an additional column titled “PP Total”.
The County confirmed that this “PP Total” column is for the tax on personal property. Even the CCID does not tax personal property. This means that businesses that have equipment, inventory or other personal property on which they pay taxes will also see an increase in their tax bills. For example, this would include local restaurants and retail stores. I feel certain many of the tenants and owners have no idea this tax increase is in the works.
How will home businesses which pay personal property tax be handled? The County has stated that “If you are in the district (Ad Valorem) you pay the tax, if you are out of the district, you don’t.”. This means that because residential parcels are not, by definition, in the district, then home businesses will be exempt from the additional personal property tax. This doesn’t appear to be an equitable treatment under the law of everyone in the area.
The County expects to collect $5.15 Million annually from this new tax district. Their spreadsheet shows that they plan to collect $5,285,262.59 in 2014, if the assessed values do not change. This is broken down to $4,637,038.11 from Real Estate and $648,224.48 from Personal Property. As you can see, they were short by simply taxing the real estate.
The first year this tax is collected, it will start at 3 mills, but of course the Commissioners will set it each year, and a cap for the maximum rate allowed is not mentioned. It sounds like some politicians will have a nice little slush fund to dig into for “pet” projects.
The proposed resolution states “the value of this tax shall be fair and reasonable.” I can’t find much that is fair or reasonable about this new tax that will be imposed upon a purely arbitrary class without a vote by the citizens.
Public Hearings are scheduled for February 11th at 9:00 a.m. and February 25th at 7:00 p.m. at 100 Cherokee Street, 2nd Floor BOC Room, Marietta, Georgia. The first evening hearing scheduled for January 28th was cancelled due to the snow storm and it will not be rescheduled.
For businesses in the area, now is the time to take pay attention. After the final vote at the February 25th BOC meeting, it will be too late. While the tax starts this year, the Braves move is planned for Spring 2017. Let’s hope they don’t put some small businesses out of business with this tax increase.