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Board of Commissioners discuss status of new bills
by Caroline Young
March 06, 2013 03:50 PM | 3671 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In a legislative update to the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, Christopher Boyd, the county’s legislative liaison, said House Bill 171 on March 1 passed in the House of Representatives 99-54, and it is now referred to the Senate and state local government operations committee.

“A new bill has been proposed as an alternative,” he said Wednesday at the county commission meeting at the County Government Center in downtown Atlanta.

To clarify, HB 171 is a redistricting bill to change the current commission district lines for the board, which would increase the number of seats and eliminate the second at-large seat. It changes the distribution and layout of the geographic commission districts to give North Fulton an extra seat on the commission.

He said the “alternative” is Senate Bill 248, which was introduced Monday by Sens. Horacena Tate, Vincent Fort and Donzella James.

District 5 Commissioner Emma Darnell confirmed with Boyd that SB 248 would be the product of the board’s recommendations, after opposing passage of HB 171.

New local legislation was introduced, he said, including House Bill 541, which is an alternative to HB 170, the bill which would increase homestead exemption in Fulton County from $30,000 to $60,000 over two years, and put a cap on the millage rate.

However, Boyd said HB 541 only pertains to homestead exemption, and would increase the rule to $60,000 over three years, instead of HB 170’s two years.

“HB 170 has been split into two bills regarding homestead exemption and millage rate,” he said. “The millage rate [bill] has yet to be determined.”

The board had a heated discussion about the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia, because it has not yet taken a stance on the three House bills to reform Fulton County government (170, 171 and 172), which were all opposed by the board.

Commission Chair John Eaves (District 1 at-large) made a motion to send a letter to the association, “asking them to choose to take a position or not to take a position [on the bills].”

“If they can’t state a position, then we will take into consideration whether or not we remain affiliated with them by way of paying our annual dues [of $35,000],” he said.

But District 6 Commissioner Joan Garner said she would rather the board send one letter asking the association to state its position on the bill, and then have a separate conversation about the board’s membership with them.

However, Eaves said he wants the association to see the board is serious about the matter, and the board voted 4-1 to send the letter containing both topics. District 3 Commissioner Liz Hausmann dissented and District 4 Commissioner Tom Lowe was absent.

In other topics, the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity and Disability Affairs requested the approval of the Fulton County Program Access Policy for Persons with Disabilities, which the board approved.

In a discussion between the board and the office regarding requirements and funding for a new Fulton self-evaluation and transition plan, the board expressed a desire for staff to be involved in the implementation.

The policy’s purpose is to reaffirm the county’s commitment to ensuring its physical facilities, programs, services and activities are available to all members of the public, including disabled citizens, to comply with Title II of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
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