For 2020 Fulton County plans to keep its millage rate at 9.899, the same as last year, but it could go up due to a drop in tax revenue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When we first presented the multiyear plan back in 2018, the rates then for 2020 we had looked at were 9.95 and for 2021 9.77 and 2022 9.72,” said Sharon Whitmore, the county’s chief financial officer. “One of the things we were trying to take into consideration in making a recommendation for the rollback rates (includes) the current economy, the jobless rate. As we begin our budget development process for 2021, we’ll have to take into account the devaluing of some funds, and we’ll (probably) have to have a higher millage rate because of that.”

At its meeting July 8 at Assembly Hall in downtown Atlanta, the Fulton Board of Commissioners voted 6-0 to approve advertising three public millage rate hearings, as required by state law, since even though the rate is remaining at 9.899, it’s still considered a tax increase, said Hakeem Oshikoya, the county’s finance director. He said the millage rate is based on a tax collection rate of at least 96%.

“What we’re recommending is 9.779 from the rollback rate. That will generate $509.8 million. …We need to increase the digest next year because of COVID,” Oshikoya said.

The board’s plan to keep the millage rate the same comes a year after it voted to decrease the rate by 0.3 mills compared to the 2018 rate of 10.20. At least two commissioners asked if the rate could increase based on the need to offset a drop in tax revenue due to the pandemic, and Oshikoya said it’s possible.

Prior to the vote, Commissioners Marvin Arrington Jr. (District 5) and Joe Carn (District 6) asked if there was a way to allocate more funding to COVID-19 response, with Carn asking for at least $10 million more in case the federal government doesn’t provide monies in the future if a second wave hits.

Arrington, who stepped away during the board’s vote, asked Oshikoya, “How much do you plan to spend on COVID-19 response next year?”

“About $25 million,” he said.

The millage rate is expected to be approved by the board in August.

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