Douglas County has collected $12.7 million more in property taxes at the beginning of the new year compared to January 2020, the tax commissioner said Monday morning.

Greg Baker said his office is at a 95.2% collection rate on property taxes. Baker, who just started his second term as the county’s tax commissioner, said his office has collected $57.6 million in property taxes so far. Tax bills were due Nov. 15, 2020.

This time last year, the county had collected $44.9 million in property taxes, according to Baker.

Baker acknowledged that at least part of the reason for the jump in revenue was as a result of the 27.8% property tax rate hike the Board of Commissioners passed back in August.

“Our goal is to hit 98% for the year,” Baker said. “This is huge because most people didn’t think we could get to this point. We are ahead of the game right now.”

Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has left many people unemployed, county officials were a little worried about the collection rate as many people have struggled.

Baker said his office has been working non-stop collecting taxes, which is the county’s biggest revenue source.

“There is a lot that rests on our shoulders at the tax office,” Baker said. “My people understand that and they have really worked hard. Overall, the people in this county do a good job of paying their taxes.”

Because of the economic situation, Baker said his office has been working with property owners.

“Some people have paid a little here, and have made some arrangements,” Baker said.

Last month, the BOC passed a $98.7 million 2021 budget by a 3-2 vote that was based on a collection rate of 94%.

State lawmakers opened their General Assembly on Monday also with good news.

State tax collections rose by 7.7% last month compared to December of 2019, the Georgia Department of Revenue reported last week.

The strong December capped off a better than expected revenue outlook for the first half of fiscal year 2021.

State tax receipts for the first six months of the fiscal year were up 6.1% over the first half of fiscal 2020, despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Georgia businesses and workers, according statistics released by the state.

Amid the strong state collection rate, lawmakers will look to build back the state’s rainy day fund, which it dipped into last year to makeup for shortfalls in the economy because of the pandemic.