One of my goals leading into the 2018 Legislative Session was to address the issue many residents in Fulton County have faced for several years – a systemic problem with not only the 2017 property tax assessments, but with issues that have involved the Fulton County Tax Assessor’s Office for many years. During the summer of 2017, the department came under scrutiny for not only the very high and inaccurate property tax assessments but also unfrozen appeals, members not working well together, lawsuits, etc.
After the Senate State and Local Governmental Operations Committee meeting, which I chaired at the time, the Fulton County Commission issued a reversal for the 2017 property tax assessments. Although that was a victory for the 2017 assessments, I knew that our work was not finished with this important issue. Following the meeting, I met with members of the Fulton County Delegation, Commission, City Council and the community to seek input on steps moving forward. At these meetings, I notified those in attendance that my next step was to introduce legislation that would change the law for Fulton County on how property tax assessments are processed.
During the first week of the 2018 Session, I filed six bills relating to property taxes in North Fulton County as well as the Fulton County School District. These bills would limit tax increases by creating a 3% cap on property tax assessment increases, address property tax exemptions, and return much of the decision-making power back to the voters of each respective city. I am happy to announce that legislation addressing property tax assessments for Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton, Mountain Park, and Roswell received final passage from versions in the Senate and House. Each piece of legislation allows citizens in these cities to vote later this fall on whether or not to cap property tax assessment increases at 3% or the inflation rate (whichever is lower).
Additionally, I sponsored SB317, which received final passage and will provide a referendum for citizens living within the Fulton County School District to vote upon approval of new homestead exemptions from the School District property taxes for educational purposes. The bill would also cap new tax assessment increases at a maximum rate of 3% or the inflation rate annually. Lastly, HB1064, which will provide a referendum for a new homestead exemption from Fulton County ad valorem taxes in the amount of $50,000 of the assessed value of the homestead for residents of the county who are older than 65 years of age, received final passage.
Each of these bills addresses an issue that many Fulton County residents have requested a solution to for several years, and I’m glad that all these bills are now on the governor’s desk, waiting for his final approval. If they are signed into law, the county election superintendent is directed to place each referendum question on the ballot for elections on November 6, 2018.