“There is not a chance that the millage rate is going to remain at 10.38 for 2018, and there is no question the millage rate will go down,” said District 3 Commissioner Lee Morris. “However, the question is how much will it go down, which we can’t answer as we do not have enough information available to us to determine that.”
At Wednesday's receess meeting at the county government complex in downtown Atlanta, the Fulton Board of Commissioners voted 7-0 to approve this agenda item, which included Morris’ amendment, which would set the millage rate at 10.38 mills, which is the maximum it can be set.
Setting the millage rate would allow the county to conduct the required three public hearings on the millage rate and still be able to get the tax bills out in August.
Although the board could have picked 10 mils or 9.9 mils, the county finance department recommended the millage rate be advertised at 10.38 mils.
“We could have picked a lower millage rate to advertise, but it would only have been a wild guess, because we do not have enough information about the our tax digest now, such as the exemptions, the number of appeals and other issues that will affect it,” Morris said.
According to District 6 Commissioner Emma Darnell, the commission must listen to the needs of county taxpayers, “who have identified as their priority for us to develop a balanced budget.”
District 1 Commissioner Liz Hausmann said it may not be the best idea to come up with an arbitrary millage rate, “but because of Commissioner Morris’ amendment, I can support this.”
The exact dates of the three public hearings have not yet been set.
In 2017 the county was criticized by property owners after properties were revalued, resulting in notices being issued to about 230,000 property owners, which reflected property value increases of as much as 150 percent, before the taxes were rolled back to their 2016 levels. This year’s assessments have been lower but reported as having an average increase of about 30 percent, drawing ire from some owners.