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Fulton County Tax Hike Challenged in Court

by Paul Miller, Atlanta, September 2014

 

As we reported in a Tax Alert for Southwest Markets, Fulton County Commissioners voted to raise the county's general fund millage rate by 17%. Now the move is being challenged in Fulton County Superior Court.

 

Law Bans Increase

 

Last year, the General Assembly passed House Bill 604. The law prohibits Fulton County from raising taxes until next year. In filing the lawsuit, Legislators said the tax hike is against state law and not in property taxpayers' best interests.

 

"The case is simple: the State Constitution empowers the General Assembly to set forth the procedures by which Fulton County may raise the millage rate. Acting pursuant to that constitutional authority, the General Assembly suspended Fulton County's ability to raise the millage rate through January 1, 2015," the lawsuit states.

 

Home Rule Act Infringement

 

Fulton Commission Chairman John Eaves said that he believes the county is within its legal right to repeal HB 604 because it infringes on the Home Rule Act created in 1965.

 

"Under the Home Rule Act, the governing authority of a municipal corporation has the power to adopt clearly reasonable ordinances, resolutions, or regulations relating its property, affairs, and local government for which no provision has been made by general law and which are not inconsistent with the state constitution or any applicable charter provision," Eves told the Atlanta Progressive News.

 

Quick Decision

 

The lawsuit asks for expediency and could be settled quickly. The case has been assigned to Fulton County Superior Judge Robert McBurney. The plaintiffs are seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent the millage rate from increasing prior to a final ruling in the case.