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County commission delays vote on property tax rate
by Noreen Cochran
July 23, 2014 01:17 PM | 1858 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Fulton County Board of Commissioners at its meeting last week moved the millage rate hearings and vote.

According to a county statement, commissioners delayed the procedures because they want more public input than they received at the two July 9 hearings.

“Those two meetings met with low attendance with only a total of 14 constituents providing feedback to the board,” county spokeswoman Ericka Davis said in the statement.

But in the meeting last week, County Attorney David Ware said a mistake was made regarding the legal advertising of the public hearings.

Commissioner Robb Pitts issued his own statement, saying the county’s was “disingenuous and a cover-up” of a county error.

“If we can’t get the advertisement of the increase right,” he said, “how can citizens have confidence that their tax bills are accurate?”

Pitts said the problem is “specifically due to an administrative rule established by the [Georgia] Department of Revenue to ensure compliance with the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.”

Additional hearings are set for July 30 at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and Aug. 6 at 10 a.m., after which a vote is expected.

Residents can speak at the county government center in downtown Atlanta or from the College Park and Sandy Springs government annexes.

The proposed new property tax rate is $11.781 per $1,000 of assessed value, more than 15 percent higher than the current 10.211 rate and 17.45 percent higher than a rollback rate of 10.03.

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

Georgia law requires the same earnings as the previous year through a “rollback” rate or public hearings if more property tax revenue is collected, even if it is due to higher assessments under unchanged millage rates.

If increased, the rate may generate $535 million, up from the 2013 earnings of $454 million. In other business, commissioners denied 4-2 an application by Michael Hightower of The Collaborative Firm to put 480 apartments and 855 parking spaces at Cascade Road near Fulton Industrial Boulevard.

Homeowners protested against building the Estates at West Cascade on 25 acres of undeveloped land currently zoned for single-family residences.

Deborah Kennedy, representing homeowners’ associations and a church, said pollution, traffic and added demand on public services were the top three reasons to oppose rezoning.

Supporters advocated the economic impact of the $60 million subdivision.

Commissioner Liz Hausmann, who with Commissioner Tom Lowe voted against denial, said the development fit in with the county’s own 2030 comprehensive plan.

“To me, this looks like a quality project,” she said.

Vice Chair Emma Darnell said the luxury apartments’ amenities did not outweigh potential negative environmental effects.

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