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RMC taxes may boost '10 budget

CONYERS — How much property tax revenue will be generated by Rockdale Medical Center has been a question on most minds in local governments considering the tough budget for 2010.

However, finding an answer, or a dollar figure, is a difficult proposition and may not be known until the middle of next year.

Due to the sale of RMC to LifePoint Hospitals Inc. in February, the local hospital will lose its nonprofit status next year. The county, city, school board and state will then have taxing authority on the 138-bed acute care hospital.

But how do you put a price on a hospital?

Rockdale County Chief Tax Assessor Lamar Sims said his office has a value of $98,619,966 for the RMC building and the land on which it sits.

However, Sims explained that will not be the final value set based on several factors to be considered between now and when tax assessment notices are mailed out in June.

"We haven't assessed the value of any of the equipment inside the hospital, and that will have an impact on the number," Sims said.

The county assessors will need to get a listing of equipment — beds, desks, chairs, X-ray machines and other medical technology — from the hospital to begin that process.

Also, just like any other property owner, RMC can file a property tax return from Jan. 1 to April 1 to document what hospital officials believe the true value should be.

Sims said he believed RMC officials will file a tax return, at which time the county tax assessors will sit down with them to negotiate a value of the building and property. Determining an inventory of equipment and its value would be a separate issue.

Forces from outside the county could add another wrinkle in assessing the value of the hospital. Sims explained legislation coming from the Georgia General Assembly could also affect the final assessed value of the hospital.

Last year, the Tax Assessors Office had completed work on property reassessments when Gov. Sonny Perdue signed legislation into law that froze all increases in local tax assessments. The tax assessors had to rework some of their assessments before they were mailed out about a month late.

"It's a process," Sims said.

If RMC's current assessed value is rounded to $100 million for simplification, that would result in tax revenue of $1,439,200. That comes from multiplying the total value by 40 percent to get the taxable property value.

From the total, the state of Georgia would get $10,000 for 0.25 mills, the county's maintenance and operations portion would be $581,200 for 14.53 mills and $8,000 for the county bond of 0.20 mills.

The school M&O portion of RMC's property tax would be $840,000 for 21 mills.

Ray said the Conyers tax revenue from RMC poses a special problem because the city's boundary runs through the middle of the hospital. That would have to be clarified before calculating the city's taxes.