Fulton County governmental departments must be prudent with their spending and be better prepared for the difficult days in the future, which will come.
“We have enjoyed unprecedented growth the last few years, but that cannot continue forever,” Fulton Board of Commissioners Chair Robb Pitts said.
This was the warning Pitts gave county officials, including commissioners, attending the board’s Aug. 7 meeting at Assembly Hall in downtown Atlanta.
He spoke following the board’s 6-0 approval of the 2020 millage rate of 9.899 mills, a drop of .30 mills from the 2019 rate of 10.20 mills.
Pitts said the county has enjoyed unprecedented growth in the last few years, “but that growth cannot continue forever and, as a result, we may be looking at more dark days to come.”
Pitts also said that, given the business mergers the county has seen over the last several years, Fulton is going to have to take a look at its county personnel with regard to what positions are needed for services the county provides.
“Fulton County spends more than it takes in, and we have balanced our budget by going into our reserves, and that cannot continue forever,” he said.
District 3 Commissioner Lee Morris, the board’s vice chair, agreed, saying he has been through a number of cycles when the economy has been down and property taxes were not growing, but the demand for government services continued.
“It is always smart to be conservative about government spending because who knows when the next downturn will come and who knows how extensive it will be, but we do know it is coming,” Morris said.
Pitts cautioned the county to think about this as it moves forward. He said it was also true Fulton is facing a lawsuit, “and if we end up on the wrong side of that, we will have to pay for it.”
He referred to the lawsuit a county homeowner has field, claiming the county missed a crucial deadline to complete thousands of property value appeals and now must accept lower assessed values for those properties.
“Now is the time for us to be prudent,” Pitts said.