HARLEM, Ga. (WJBF) – Property taxes across Columbia County may be going up. The City of Harlem wants to hear from residents.

How much you pay in property taxes is determined by an equation: millage rate X home appraisal. When your millage rate or home value goes up, so do your property taxes.

“We chose to keep our millage as it was, which was 9.35. It has been that way since 2016. We have not raised anything. The reason there is an increase is largely due to the tax assessment,” Harlem Mayor Roxanne Whitaker said.

Mayor Whitaker says homes in the city have risen in value due to new construction and an influx of people.

“We’ve had about a 15 percent growth in the past year. There are more people coming in to town, there are newer homes being built which are causing the older homes to rise in value. Same way across Columbia County,” Mayor Whitaker said.

When there is a potential for property taxes to go up, a city is required to hold public hearings. Thursday night, Harlem City Council held the second of three.

“We didn’t have anyone show up to our first meeting, so we’ll see. We are very open to hear people and their concerns or their suggestions,” Mayor Whitaker said.

No one took the podium Wednesday night during the public hearing.

Mayor Whitaker says although residents may have to pay more, they will benefit.

“This goes to help man our police force, our fire department, our public works, and to help with any improvements we need to make across the county,” Mayor Whitaker said. “You can’t run a town the way we’re growing on one policeman per shift. Fireman, we do have two full time fire people and everything else is volunteer. As we grow we will be adding full time employees to that.”

The final public hearing is Monday, after which the council will take a vote. Any changes would take effect January 1st.