In March 2001, the citizens of Rockdale County voted to implement a Homestead Option Sales Tax (HOST) effective July 1, 2001.
HOST is a voter-approved penny sales tax that is exempt from groceries.
Rockdale County's HOST will remain in place permanently unless another referendum is held and voters choose to remove it.
The HOST has enabled the Rockdale Board of Commissioners to eliminate the County Operation & Maintenance (O&M) portion of residential tax bills by increasing the homestead exemption to 100%. (HOST does not impact school, city or state taxes.)
Previously, the County homestead exemption was $15,000, meaning $15,000 of a home's value was exempt from County O&M taxes. With HOST, the total value of a home plus up to five acres on which it is built is exempt from County O&M taxes.
The amount of money homeowners will save with HOST depends on an individual's home value. For example, the owner of a home valued at $160,000 before HOST would pay $614 in property taxes to fund County O&M. With HOST in place and the homestead exemption at 100%, that amount will be zero, so the owner of a $160,000 home will save $614 in property taxes. The owner of a home valued at $240,000, meanwhile, will save $1,015 in property taxes, while someone owning a $120,000 home will save $413.
State law prohibits counties from using the first year's HOST proceeds to increase the homestead exemption. Therefore, those revenues were used to build a 90-day reserve and to fund necessary capital improvements, such as the acquisition of public safety vehicles, transportation projects and the expansion of recreational facilities.
HOST has also allowed the County to reduce the millage rate for commercial, industrial and all other non-homestead properties by about 3.5 mills.
That means a reduction in Rockdale County auto ad valorem taxes, as well.
Additionally, HOST will generate sufficient revenues to annually allocate funds for necessary capital projects.
It is estimated that up to 40% of the revenues from HOST will come from non-residents of Rockdale (visitors).
Prior to the HOST referendum, Rockdale was one of only four out of Georgia's 159 counties without a permanent sales tax in place for property tax relief.