Fulton County residents will see a millage rate of 10.20 mils when they receive their property tax bills this month, not a 9.77 to 9.98 millage rate which was advertised when the county scheduled its three required millage rate public hearings.
“At the June 20 commission meeting, the board approved by a 6-0 vote, with one abstention, to confirm it was the intent of the board of commissioners to set a millage rate at a level that was sufficient to only generate enough revenue necessary to cover expenditures in the (fiscal) 2018 budget, which was approved in January,” said Fulton Board of Commissioners Vice Chairman and District 2 Commissioner Bob Ellis.
However, at its recess meeting Wednesday at the county government complex in downtown Atlanta, the board failed to pass a resolution by Ellis to revoke the vote supporting a 10.20 millage rate the commission had approved 4-3 at its Aug. 1 meeting.
Commissioners voting to oppose Ellis’ resolution were exactly the same as the vote which established it Aug. 1, falling along party lines. Commission Chairman Robb Pitts joined Commissioners Emma Darnell, Natalie Hall and Marvin Arrington Jr., all Democrats, in turning aside Ellis’ resolution while Commissioners Liz Hausmann and Lee Morris joined Ellis, all Republicans, to uphold it.
Arrington said the commission’s vote Aug. 1 favoring the 10.20 mils was actually lower than last year’s millage rate of 10.38 mills by .18 mils.
“This reduction to 10.20 mils represents the fourth consecutive year the Fulton County Commission has reduced the millage rate,” Arrington said. “We are having people running around talking about we voted to increase the millage rate and, despite what anyone tells you in regard to our raising the millage rate, it’s hogwash.”
Prior to the vote, Darnell brought up a procedural question regarding the validity of Ellis even making the motion.
“When I came onto the board in the 1990s, you could come back two weeks after a vote on agenda item was taken and ask that it be reconsidered, but that is not the case now,” she said.
Morris said the reason the original June 20 resolution was adopted concerning having a millage rate that would be just enough to cover the budget was to assure taxpayers the commission was not going to raise the millage after the three required public hearings.
“However, with today’s vote on Commissioner Ellis’ resolution, that is exactly what we did to the taxpayers,” he said.
Hausmann said she felt the commission had misled the public with the failure of Ellis’ resolution.
“Here we made an advertisement to the public that clearly stated we would not raise any revenue which was going to exceed what we had budgeted to cover our budget,” she said. “It is very disturbing to me to listen to the lighthearted chatter as to what we are going to do with an additional $20 million in revenue now.
“We heard time and again from our community that their property values were too high, and they were worried about being taxed out of their homes and they implored us not to take advantage of the situation.”