Smaller property tax hike forecast for DeKalb city residents

City residents in DeKalb County won’t face as big of a property tax increase as they were expecting for county services, according to revised county budget projections.

Tax collections came in higher than expected at the end of last year, meaning the county can hold down the cities’ tax hike. Unincorporated DeKalb residents’ property tax rate will remain unchanged this year.

Property taxes in many cities dropped in 2014, but they’re still expected to go up slightly more this year than they had fallen.

Since 2013, the DeKalb portion of cities’ property taxes will fall by as much as 13 percent in Avondale Estates and rise as much as 2 percent in Doraville.

The tax increase since last year is more significant: from 11 percent in Brookhaven and Dunwoody to as much as 27 percent in the portion of Atlanta located in DeKalb.

“New estimated fund balances have allowed a lowering of the general fund rate, thereby making the two-year rate change for most cities at only 1 percent to 2 percent,” according to a presentation delivered by Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May to county commissioners last week.

Commissioner Nancy Jester objected to the tax increase on DeKalb’s cities, saying government costs were being passed on to about 200,000 city residents so that the county didn’t have to raise taxes on its 519,000 unincorporated residents. Even in cities, DeKalb County’s government provides court, jail, library, water, sewer and other services.

Overall, city residents paid lower 2014 combined tax rates that their unincorporated neighbors, excluding schools, in Brookhaven, Chamblee, Doraville and Dunwoody. Homeowners paid higher tax rates in Atlanta, Avondale Estates, Clarkston, Decatur, Lithonia, Pine Lake and Stone Mountain.

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