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21 February 2013

Bill Capping Millage Rates and Increasing Homestead Exemption for Fulton County Clears House Committee

A bill by House Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones (R - Milton) to give Fulton County residents more savings on their property tax bills cleared its first hurdle in the legislative process Wednesday.

House Bill 170, a bill that caps county millage rates at 2012 levels unless increased by a vote of at least five Fulton County commissioners and increases the homestead exemption to $60,000 over a two-year period, was voted out of the House Committee on Intergovernmental Coordination with a "do pass" recommendation.

Speaker Pro Tempore Jones said, in a pre-session press release, "Fulton County taxes and spends substantially more per resident than other metro counties, and the numbers bear it out."

The current millage rate for Fulton County is 10.281; meaning that for every thousand dollars, property owners pay $10.28 in taxes to the county. A home valued at $100,000, with an assessed value of $40,000 (forty percent of the home's fair market value), would carry a Fulton County tax bill of $411.20. That amount does not include taxes for the state, city (if applicable) or local school board.

House Bill 170 would keep the Fulton County millage rate at 10.281, unless increased by a vote of five commissioners.

The legislation also increases homestead exemption from $30,000 to $60,000 over two years, if approved by voters in 2014.

House Bill 170 asks Fulton County voters, "Shall the Act be approved which lowers property taxes for Fulton County homeowners by increasing the homestead exemption from Fulton County ad valorem taxes for county purposes from $30,000.00 to $60,000.00 after a two-year phase-in period?"

If more than one-half of Fulton County voters say yes to the question stated above, the homestead exemption would increase to $45,000 in 2015 and $60,000 in 2016.

"After this legislation takes effect, the owners of a $500,000 home will pay $1,439 in property taxes, instead of the $1,748 they currently pay," Speaker Pro Tempore Jones added. "The owners of a $250,000 home will pay $411, as opposed to the $720 they pay now. And the owners of a $150,000 home will be exempt from any property tax liability."

The Fulton County Commission stated its opposition to House Bill 170 in a resolution adopted by the body earlier this month. However, Commissioners Liz Hausmann and Tom Lowe voted against the resolution opposing H.B. 170.