Fulton trying to cover huge budget deficit
by Mary Cosgrove
September 15, 2012 12:54 AM | 2167 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ATLANTA — With a 3 percent decline anticipated in Fulton County’s tax digest for fiscal year 2013, and commissioners having rejected a property tax increase, county officials are left with an estimated $77 million deficit between revenue and expenditures.

Fulton County Finance Director Patrick O’Connor said 2013 general-fund revenues are expected to drop to $511 million from $540 million. Expenses, meanwhile, are projected at $588 million, up from 2012’s $585 million.

County officials are already pulling about $44 million from rainy-day funds to cover shortfalls in the current budget year.

A few months back, commissioners decided against raising the property tax to 10.791 mills from 10.281 mills.

While O’Connor estimated a 95 percent collection rate on property taxes, declining property values have left the county in a deficit.

Commissioner Liz Hausmann asked during a recent commission meeting what the county regularly collects on property taxes from year to year, and County Manager Zachary Williams said traditionally it has been 98 percent. That difference in 3 percent would be a $10 million increase in revenue.

Commissioner Robb Pitts asked whether there might be some surprise collections in the upcoming year, which has happened in the past. But the answer was sobering.

“There is not going to be any miracle here,” O’Connor said, to which Pitts thanked him for his honesty.

“I hope the six of us here now heard what you said,” he said. “There is no more money and there is no white horse riding in.”

The commissioners are anticipated to adopt a tentative budget by Dec. 19. The fiscal year begins in January.
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