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Property Tax Rates Capped in Fulton County

by Paul Miller, Atlanta, June 2013

 

Property tax rates will remain stable for at least the next two years in Fulton County, Georgia after Governor Nathan Deal signed new legislation into law.

 

The move has sparked strong reaction, both for and against the cap.

 

Act 135

 

Act 135 prohibits Fulton County from raising its millage rate before January 1, 2015. It also requires approval by a supermajority of county commissioners for any rate increase proposed after that date.

 

Pro

 

Supporters say the measure is needed to curtail out-of-control spending. They say the rate cap will force county commissioners to make responsible decisions.

 

As Michael Fitzgerald, co-founder of the North Fulton & Friends Tea Party told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Hopefully, the county commissioners will get the message that freewheeling spending is coming to an end."

 

Con

 

Opponents, including Commission Chairman John Eaves said the legislation is an illegal intrusion into local government affairs and the county may challenge it in court.

 

"It's bad public policy. It's a bad precedent. And it's a clear violation of home rule, in my opinion," he said.

 

Eaves added that the county hasn't raised property taxes since 1991.

 

Credit Rating Dropped

 

Fitch Ratings citied the millage rate cap along with Fulton's reliance on reserve funds in deciding to lower the county's credit rating recently.

 

The agency said the millage cap will reduce the county's financial flexibility and it signifies a lack of cooperation between state and local officials.