Property values in DeKalb County are falling even faster than previously believed.

New statistics delivered to county commissioners show the tax digest fell by a whopping 13.4 percent, almost 2 percent higher than originally estimated just last week.

“It means the average value of a house in DeKalb County has actually decreased by about $33,000 in one year,” said DeKalb’s Chief Operating Officer Richard Stogner.

It also means DeKalb County is now facing a budget shortfall of between $40 million and $45 million, higher than the $25 million estimated last week.

“You are going to have to raise taxes,” Stogner told Channel 2’s Richard Elliot. “No if’s about it. The question is how much are you going to have to raise taxes and how much are you going to have to cut.”

Stogner gave commissioners the grim news at the Budget and Finance Committee meeting Tuesday afternoon. Some commissioners didn’t think CEO Burrell Ellis had a strong enough plan to cut services, cut jobs and utilize outsourcing to help reduce that budget shortfall. Commissioners Lee May and Elaine Boyer criticized the plans as relying too heavily on tax increases and not enough on budget cuts.

But Stogner defended the CEO’s plan and said there’s only so much non-essential services they can cut before they start cutting into essential things like public safety.

“To a certain extent, we are not like a business,” said Stogner. “If we say we’re losing money, we can’t just shut down that operation. We can’t just shut down the jail. We can’t just shut the courts down. We can’t shut the police down. We can’t shut down the fire department.”

Stogner did say everything is back on the table as far as budget cuts, including he said, employee furloughs.