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Commission to tackle tax hike, zoning and guns
by Noreen Cochran
July 13, 2014 11:21 AM | 2360 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
download Agenda
download Fulton County budget
download Zoning application
download Safe Carry resolution
The Fulton County Board of Commissioners at its meeting Wednesday is expected to vote on the 2014 millage rate, zoning requests and the Safe Carry Protection Act.

The board will hold its third and final public hearing on the proposed property tax rate of $11.781 per $1,000 of assessed value.

“This millage rate increase is necessary to support the 2014 general fund budget as adopted by the board of commissioners,” county Finance Director Patrick O’Connor said in a statement about the $625 million general fund budget approved in February.

The 2013 rate is 10.211; the proposed increase is 17.45 percent higher.

Expenditures are not the only reason behind the change.

In the improving economy, 2014 assessed property values went up $1 billion.

Increased values will lead to higher tax bills even if no change is made.

The 2013 millage rate will generate $464 million if unchanged, up from the 2013 earnings of $454 million.

Georgia law requires the same earnings as the previous year through a “rollback” rate, which for Fulton County would be 10.03, or higher earnings advertised as tax increases.

“If we do not roll the general maintenance and operations millage rate back for change in value due to reassessments, then we must calculate the percentage difference between the proposed millage rates and the rollback rates and advertise that difference as a tax increase,” O’Connor said.

If increased, the rate may generate $535 million, with another $74 million coming in from other sources like ad valorem taxes, state and federal funds, licenses and permits, service charges, fines and forfeitures.

In addition, the county maintains a $44 million reserve fund.

Wednesday’s agenda also includes commentary on the Safe Carry Protection Act, which as of July 1 allows firearms in government buildings.

In a resolution, county Chairman John Eaves said there are no security personnel in its libraries or health centers and “because of actual or perceived safety concerns [the county] urges the Georgia General Assembly to amend these provisions to alleviate the concerns of the general public and governmental employees.”

A zoning request by Michael Hightower of The Collaborative Firm on behalf of The Estates at West Cascade will get a third look Wednesday, held over from two previous meetings at his request to allow more time to work out differences with neighborhood groups.

The Community Zoning Board recommended denial of the application due to a lack of “balance between the land use map and opposition’s concerns.”

If approved, the zoning will allow a currently single-family residential tract of 25 acres on Cascade Road at Old Cascade Road and Fulton Industrial Boulevard to be developed into a 480-unit apartment complex.

Planning and Community Services Director Randy Beck said the application has letters of approval from the Sandtown Community Association and the Cascade Business and Merchants Association.

During the application’s June 4 public hearing, community members spoke in opposition.

Andrea Sozsby said the nearby Sandtown community can already fill area housing needs.

“They are 38 percent occupied,” she said about its 389 units.

Cheryl Flowers said the local Randolph Elementary School is already at capacity and Poplar Springs United Methodist Church member James Done said the plan is “not good for our community” due to existing traffic congestion.

“Try getting to [Interstate] 285 in the morning or Fulton Industrial Boulevard in the morning,” he said. “No way do we need another 480 units.”


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