Property owners in the city of South Fulton will pay the same rate of taxes they did for the past two years, even if rising values present them with a bigger bill.
The 2018 rate is 11.579 mills as it was in 2017 to support the city’s $65 million fiscal 2018 general fund budget.
The city, for four months after incorporation, used a combined 7.149 mills for South Fulton and 4.430 mills for the Fulton County Special Services District until setting its own rate, city spokeswoman Jolene Butts-Freeman said.
In September 2017, South Fulton unanimously approved its own rate, keeping the mills, or amount per $1,000 of assessed property value, at 11.579.
On Aug. 7, the city maintained the millage rate 5-2 with city councilwomen Naeema Gilyard and Carmalitha Gumbs opposed.
Gilyard referred to Fulton County government and school board millage rate cuts and said she wanted to explore a rate of 11.25 “to lessen some of the burden” because of property assessment increases.
City CFO Frank Milazi said such a reduction will produce a $963,000 shortfall, requiring budget cuts.
According to city documents, a reduction of .5 mills “completely eliminates” a planned $1 million surplus and a reduction of 1 mill would eliminate the surplus and capital improvements for the most needy of its 31 facilities, one of the budget’s principal issues.
The city held public hearings required because the municipality proposed the same rate, resulting in higher tax bills, while a rollback rate would have resulted in the same amount of tax being paid.
Few residents spoke at the July 31 and Aug. 7 hearings.
Milazi said in response to one question that homeowners will see homestead exemptions in their 2018 tax bills.
He also said residents with further questions can call him in his capacity as the city treasurer at 470-809-7700.
City Councilman khalid kamau said the city had to contend with its $12 million debt from a tax anticipation note.
“We don’t have a credit rating yet but we’re gonna get one,” he said. “How we manage the money that we have and the money that we borrow will affect our credit rating. If we want things, (we) gotta pay for them.”
To that end, staff started work in April on the city’s proposed $70.5 million fiscal 2019 budget for the year beginning Oct. 1.
It is up for public hearings Aug. 14 and Sept. 11 during the 7 p.m. city council meeting at the South Fulton Service Center, 5600 Stonewall Tell Road, with adoption slated to follow Sept. 11.
According to a budget presentation, Mayor William “Bill” Edwards and the city council “have set lofty yet attainable goals” for residents’ needs.
“To accomplish these goals and deliver world-class municipal services, the city must provide the appropriate level of resources and financial capacity,” it stated.
Projected revenue will not move the city completely out of a negative fund balance, the document stated, since the city began its operations with the $12 million TAN.
“Still, we anticipate a positive fund balance in the 2020 fiscal year, which aligns with the three-year average in which most new municipalities reach this milestone,” the document stated.
City Manager Odie Donald II said in his July 31 transmittal letter that the budget reflects “the ideas and priorities” of residents.
Investments include new police cars and fire trucks, business-friendly initiatives and technology, he said.