2017 Fulton County Property Tax Assessment Increase Update

A few days ago I wrote this article about this Fulton County’s recent property tax assessments after receiving numerous calls and messages from neighbors with questions or complaints. As I mentioned in the previous article city officials like myself have absolutely no control over the assessments so our only options are to leverage whatever political influence we may have to encourage a reasonable resolution by those who do have control of the situation and adjust our local tax rate as we see fit based on the decision handed down.

With that in mind I have had several conversations with elected officials at the state and county level over the past few days and would like to provide an update. Every elected official I have spoken to is upset with the way the tax assessment process has been handled and I have been encouraged by the attention given to this urgent matter. One way or another local governments need to know our tax base as soon as possible. The city of Alpharetta will begin our current budget ends in less than three weeks and it is absolutely absurd that we still don’t know what our property tax base will be to plan for the next year.

Fulton County Vice Chairman Bob Ellis who represents Fulton’s 2nd District and lives in Milton has been at the forefront of trying to resolve this convoluted problem. Vice Chair Ellis held a public meeting last Thursday to hear from residents. This report from 11 Alive titled “Tempers Erupt in Meeting Halls over Fulton County Tax Bills” covered the meeting. A lot of upset taxpayers took advantage of the opportunity to voice their concerns and when I spoke to Bob on Friday he was sincerely glad to given them the opportunity. You may watch the full video of the town hall meeting here.

Vice Chair Ellis has also called upon state legislators to intervene if the problems cannot be successfully resolved at the local level. I am personally concerned about further state involvement in local governance because some of the existing assessment problems are unintended consequences of previous legislation. For example, state law currently requires governments to value residential properties between 90 and 110 percent of fair market value so Fulton County can be fined $1 million if this years’ assessments don’t reflect those values regardless of the consequences. But despite reservations about further state involvement I do appreciate Bob’s insistence that the situation must be remedied one way or another.

Fulton County Chairman John Eaves has also been vocal about the tax assessment problem. Last week Chairman Eaves joined Vice Chair Ellis in calling for the Board of Assessors to rescind the 2017 property tax assessments. Chairman Eaves has also been vocal in calling for a freeze on tax assessments until the issues can be resolved:

“To our homeowners, this is a financial emergency,” Eaves said. “A freeze would mean that most would pay the same in taxes, so long as city hall and school board millage rates were not increased in the past year.”

The Fulton County Board of Assessors was scheduled to vote on the requested tax freeze last week but postponed the vote until this Thursday. However the chief tax appraiser says he won’t recommend rescinding the assessments even at that time.

State Senator John Albers from Roswell who calls the assessment situation a “fiasco” is following the matter closely in case state intervention is required has also expressed concerns that the tax board meeting should be conducted in a more convenient forum for his constituents.

One way or the other it is imperative that the Tax Board resolve the situation immediately so that local governments can make informed decisions on tax millage rates and budgets for next year. This is unacceptable.

Before the tax board’s decision scheduled this week Fulton County Commissioner Liz Hausmann who represents District 1 and lives in Johns Creek will also hold one more public meeting to discuss the matter this Wednesday night, June 14, at Johns Creek High School at 7:00 p.m. I encourage those of you who have questions or comments to please attend the meeting and be heard.

Hausmann meeting copy

 

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Fulton County Deeds Former Library Property To Alpharetta

Yesterday an extraordinary example of cooperation between Fulton County and the City of Alpharetta occurred. After the City of Alpharetta had donated land for a new library downtown the Fulton County Commission returned the favor by donating the old library site back to the city. Historically our two political entities have had trouble working together so it is nice to see that in recent years we have been able to look past political differences and cooperate in ways that benefit all of our constituents.

I can honestly say that both our Fulton County Commissioners and the Library Board were helpful and gracious in meetings I attended as we looked for ways to work together rather than just score political brownie points. It is never easy for two political entities to put politics aside but I applaud Fulton County Chairman John Eaves, Vice Chairman Liz Hausmann and the entire Fulton County Commission for their efforts in this case. I would especially like to thank Commissioner Bob Ellis for taking the time to meet with me about this topic on several occasions.

Below is a press release issued by the City of Alpharetta yesterday:

In action taken this morning, the Fulton County Commission voted to deed roughly 3 acres of land and a building located at the corner of Mayfield Road and Canton Street to the City of Alpharetta. The property is the location of the former public library that was closed earlier this year.
“We are pleased that the property will remain in public hands so that it can continue to serve as an amenity to the citizens of Alpharetta,” said Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle. “We are grateful to the members of the County Commission for today’s action and for fulfilling the assurances previously made to us.”

In December 2013 the City of Alpharetta donated 3 acres of land in its City Center Project to Fulton County to serve as the site for the new Alpharetta Branch Library. Shortly after making the donation the City began conversations with members of the County Commission to express their interest in gaining control of the Canton Street site.

The City plans to hold an open house at Alpharetta City Hall beginning at 7:00 PM on Monday, September 21 to begin a public conversation on the future use of the Canton Street property. The purpose of that session is to provide Alpharetta citizens with an opportunity to share their ideas for how the property should be used.