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Fulton Opposes Attempt to Freeze or Lower Property Taxes

Commissioner Liz Hausmann said she was in favor of legislation by Alpharetta, Milton and Johns Creek lawmakers that also would redraw commission district lines that would add another North Fulton member.

The Fulton County Board of Commissioners voted Wednesday to oppose temporarily capping the county's property tax millage rate, doubling the homestead exemption rate and giving North Fulton more representation on the commisson.

Liz Hausmann is the only commissioner who solely represents North Fulton. Commissioner Tom Lowe's district extends from Roswell south until it's well inside the perimeter.

Hausmann, the District 3 commissioner, voted against the resolution.

"I am in favor of the proposed new commission districts as it brings additional representation to North Fulton that is long overdue, and complies with the important concept of one man one vote," said Hausmann, the District 3 Commissioner. "I also think the legislation that provides for an increase in the homestead exemption includes an important component in allowing a vote by the citizens of Fulton County to either approve or reject the increase."

Joint Meeting Thursday, Feb. 7
Fulton County House and Senate delegations
State Capitol, Room 403, noon-1p.m.

A news release sent out with the resolution, sponsored by Chairman John Eaves, Vice-Chair Emma I. Darnell, and Commissioners William “Bill” Edwards, Joan P. Garner and Robert “Robb” Pitts, listed concerns with all three pieces of legislation. Eaves and Pitts are "at-large" commissioners. The resolution identified what commissioners said would be negative effects on:

  1. The ability of Fulton County government to continue to provide essential services to its citizens;
  2. The voting rights of Fulton County citizens; and
  3. The right of Fulton County employees to be free from arbitrary treatment and disciplinary actions.

Additionally, the news release said House Bill (HB) 170 would have a significant economic impact on Fulton County government's revenue because of the combination of the homestead exemption doubling to $60,000 and the cap on the General Fund millage rate. 

The release says what HB 171 would do, but not how that would be negative other than to say voting rights would be affected. The commissioners said the legislation seeks to change the current commission district lines for the Commission by increasing district seats, changing district lines and eliminating a second at-large seat. This bill would increase the number of district commission seats and eliminate the second at-large seat that currently exists. It also establishes staggered terms for Fulton County Commissioners.

The final bit of legislation proposed, HB 172, would expose county employees to the potential for arbitrary treatment by making changes to Fulton County's civil service system for employees, the release said.

Linda Southard February 08, 2013 at 07:34 PM
Changes are long overdue to a bloated Fulton County that caters to special interests and a dysfunctional Atlanta.
Morris Devereaux February 12, 2013 at 04:00 PM
There's certainly a lot of improvement that is needed, but generalizations about "special interests" and a dysfunctional Atlanta government which has nothing at all to do with Fulton County government don't help the situation. Property assessments are particularly difficult. What is SUPPOSED to happen is that assessments are supposed to be updated at minimum every three years (per state law). Of course, this would result in a massive lowering of assessed values in Fulton County. Because of long-term commitments made by the County, should these assessed values change, projected tax revenues would be insufficient to meet the needs of the County. In that situation, County Commissioners SHOULD raise millage rates to compensate for the lowered property values. Now, this would result in a null net change for the taxpayer. Regardless of what your property is valued at, you'd still end up paying the same amount. But the key difference here is that you would have the ammunition to hold your elected Commissioner's feet to the fire about increasing your taxes. Currently, they try to keep the millage rate low and the assessed value high so they can blame property values rather than their own spending. If you want to make changes in Fulton County, then campaign to have them change the way the elected politicians operate. That's where the problems lie.

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