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Forsyth County hears update on Comprehensive Plan, 2022 millage rate

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — An update to the Forsyth County Comprehensive Plan for 2022-2042 went before the board of commissioners on Thursday, as local groups and officials prepare the document for regional and state vetting later this year.

Georgia mandates local governments to draft a comprehensive plan to guide their long-term vision for growth and development. When completed, the Forsyth County Comprehensive Plan will be transmitted to the Atlanta Regional Commission for approval before it can officially be adopted locally.

The updated Comprehensive Plan was presented to Forsyth County commissioners by members of the planning team, Amanda Hatton, of the consulting firm Blue Cypress Consulting and Laura Blaszyk, a project manager with the design firm Pond & Company.

Hatton said the planning team has been working on the update since September and has taken special care to ensure that input from community members and stakeholders was incorporated into the draft.

Hatton said this update still has the framework of the Comprehensive Plan that was overhauled by the board in 2017 but has several important changes to comply with new state requirements and the community’s changing vision.

“I want to remind everyone that this was a very collaborative process,” she said. “We had a steering committee that guided us and gave us direction throughout the process, and we also had an iterative process with the public.”

Noteworthy updates to the document include several changes to the county’s land use maps, which guide future development, and updates to the community work program, which recommends projects and initiatives that the county should undertake each year.

The Forsyth County Planning Commission recommended its own changes in June, including a new restriction on used vehicle dealerships, the removal of mixed-use and M2 zonings from certain areas of the county, and other similar suggestions.

After Hatton and Blaszyk’s presentation and a short discussion, commissioners unanimously voted to postpone their decision on the plan until another public hearing can be held on Aug. 4.

Vote pending on millage rate

Forsyth County officials have announced that with board approval, the county’s 2022 millage rate will remain unchanged from what was levied in 2021.

At the second of three public hearings on the millage rate held on July 7, Chief Financial Officer Marcus Turk told commissioners that the county plans to collect nearly $186.1 million from local taxpayers in 2022, a 13.4 percent increase in revenue over 2021.

Turk said that the 13.45 percent growth from the 2021 tax digest is largely due to increasing assessment values and partially due to new construction in the county.

Turk said that, of the collections projected by the county, $180 million has been earmarked for general fund expenditures in 2023, while $5.5 million has been marked for county contingency funds.

Forsyth County’s millage rate hasn’t changed since 2020, when a portion of the millage rate was rolled back from 7.936 to 7.896 mils. Despite that rollback, Forsyth County tax collections have increased steadily along with local property values and assessments.

If approved, the proposed Forsyth County millage rate of 7.896 will be combined with the recently approved Forsyth County Board of Education millage rate, for a total property tax of 26.614 mils.

A comparison of millage rates in counties like Forsyth County, including Fayette, Hall, Chatham and Cherokee counties, reportedly shows Forsyth County with the lowest M&O and Fire Millage Rates, Turk said.

“This is a multi-year trend that records indicate has been consistent for at least the last decade,” he said.

The third public hearing on the proposed millage rate will be held at the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners meeting on July 21. Commissioners are expected to vote on the proposed rate at that meeting.

Reach Alexander Popp at 770-847-7404.