With House Bills 574 and 527, the property tax rate in Johns Creek and Milton, respectively, could be raised if a majority of voters participating in the election vote in favor, instead of the majority of all registered voters.
“It clarifies that [the decision would be] an affirmative vote of those voting in that referendum,” Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker said.
Bodker added the bill also sets the stage so the city officials can consider bringing a referendum before citizens to vote on bond funding for certain improvement projects.
Milton Mayor Joe Lockwood said raising taxes is not the intent of the city’s elected officials, but the clarification to the charter gives citizens the option to vote on the issue without having to factor in the registered voters who may not live in city limits anymore or are deceased or just do not come out to the polls.
H.B. 527 also includes amendments to Milton’s charter regarding the mayor’s veto and the term limits for the mayor, city councilmembers and the mayor pro tempore.
Under the approved bill, it will take five members of council, instead of four, to overturn a mayor’s veto on a council vote. Lockwood said the mayor’s veto power has been essentially nonexistent, because if four councilmembers made up the majority vote on a particular issue and the mayor vetoed the vote, those same four members could overturn the veto.
H.B. 527 also allows for the mayor and councilmembers to serve three consecutive terms and sets a one-year term for the councilmember serving as mayor pro tempore.
The state Senate also passed H.B. 452 Friday, which consolidates Milton’s election districts from six to three with two councilmembers from each district.
“Based on the 2010 census, the population is much different [than the previous census],” Lockwood said. “This allows there to be a fair representation of each district.”
He explained some districts had much larger populations than others and the bill was designed to balance that out.