ATLANTA – The Fulton County Board of Commissioners approved a reduction Wednesday, Sept. 6, in the 2017 millage rate.
The General Fund millage rate was approved at 10.380, down 0.07 mills from the 2016 millage rate of 10.450.
This marks the third year in a row that the General Fund millage rate was reduced. The Bond Fund millage rate will remain unchanged at 0.250.
Fulton Commissioner Bob Ellis said the actions of the past few months have been focused on addressing a problematic 2017 residential property assessment process in a way that was most equitable to homeowners. “However, I want you to know that discussions have been ongoing with state legislators regarding changes that can be made to our property tax system in Fulton County and potentially throughout the state,” Ellis said.
Ellis said he is lobbying for tax code changes in three areas: property tax caps for homeowners, potential expanded exemptions for seniors and general reforms of the property tax assessment process.
A property tax cap means if the assessment rises, it does not automatically result in a similar increase in property taxes.
There are many cap-like mechanisms used in other states and by some local governments in Georgia that could be employed.
Fulton County taxing authorties – city, school and county government – could and should have the same cap mechanisms in place so that homeowners have a degree of assurance that their tax bills cannot increase over a certain percentage amount, Ellis said.
“This could be achieved in Fulton County by having floating homestead exemptions in place for all taxing entities to assure that as assessed value increases, the amount of a homestead exemption would also increase” he said.
This would guarantee that a homeowner’s taxable assessed value grows by no greater than a certain percentage.
Ellis called for these changes to be implemented in Fulton County, so state lawmakers will need to introduce legislation in the 2018 session calling for a referendum by the voters for adoption of such for each taxing entity.
Similar to property tax caps, there has also been a great deal of discussion around potential expanded exemptions for senior citizens in Fulton County who, unlike seniors in many other counties, continue to pay schools taxes, Ellis said.
“Reducing or eliminating the school tax for our seniors would also require state legislation that calls for a referendum by the voters.
“We need to have greater oversight that allows us to hold the Fulton County Board of Assessors more accountable,” he said.