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County to advertise possible tax hike
by Noreen Lewis Cochran
June 21, 2012 03:27 PM | 2875 views | 7 7 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It took two tries for the Fulton County Board of Commissioners at its recess meeting Wednesday at the county government center in downtown Atlanta to vote on an advertisement for a proposed five-year millage rate increase from 10.281 to 10.791 mills plus a public hearing and vote July 11.

The vote was 5-2 for the ad, scheduled to run today in a daily Atlanta newspaper.

District 2 Commissioner Robb Pitts and District 3 Commissioner Liz Hausmann were opposed.

Its first go-round on the agenda was greeted with silence when commission chair John Eaves asked for a motion, without which a vote could not be taken.

Commissioners, however, weighed in heavily prior to his request.

“We’ve always run a conservative government,” said District 4 Commissioner Tom Lowe, “but we find ourselves in the toughest times I’ve seen in 37 years.”

Hausmann said a presentation by Deputy CFO Sharon Whitmore and County Manager Zachary Williams preceding the discussion gave a bleak outlook for constituents.

“I just don’t think people can pay any more. I think they’re at their limit. We have a lot of work ahead of us to find that money,” Hausmann said about a $70 million deficit in the $605 million budget.

District 7 Commissioner William “Bill” Edwards said 8,000 of his constituents pay no taxes on homes valued at $75,000 or less.

“They understand they’re going to have to pay a little more to protect their services,” he said. “People aren’t crazy. They understand.”

District 6 Commissioner Joan Garner said her district is similar.

“People say, ‘I pay $14 in taxes. Don’t you think you should ask me for more money?’” she said.

Following the discussion, the commission went into a 30-minute closed session for real estate and litigation matters, after which it put the ad item back on the agenda.

“If there is no action today, the [tax] bills will go out at a later time,” Williams said.

The presentation indicated the half-mill increase will actually decrease household expenses since the average residential parcel declined 16 percent in fair market value from 2011 to 2012.

The tax on a $200,000 house in 2011 at 10.281 mills was $514.05, while the same house valued at $192,000 in 2012 will be taxed $505 at 10.791 mills, a decrease of more than $9.

Unincorporated south Fulton millage may increase from 8.969 to 10.469, an increase of 1.5 mills.

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