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23 June 2013

Proposed Rate Hike Would Push South Fulton Taxes Higher Than in Nearby Cities

At its meeting on the 19th of June, the Fulton County Commission proposed another tax increase for south Fulton.

The seven-member body voted five to one, with one abstention, to raise the millage rate in south Fulton from 10.469 to 12.469; an increase of two mills.

With an estimated population of 87,628, south Fulton represents about 9.5% of the total Fulton County population. A wave of municipalization between 2005 and 2007 --resulting in the new cities of Chattahoochee Hills, Johns Creek, Milton, and Sandy Springs-- left south Fulton standing alone as the only unincorporated area in Georgia's largest county.

South Fulton had an opportunity to incorporate as the City of South Fulton in 2007. However, concerns about higher property taxes led south Fulton residents to vote no on cityhood.

District 7 Fulton County Commissioner Bill Edwards, who represents south Fulton, told constituents before the 2007 cityhood referendum, "It's abundantly clear that a City of South Fulton will require huge tax increases just to stay afloat."

In a bit of irony, since south Fulton did not form a new city in 2007, property taxes in the unincorporated area rose from 5.659 mills to 10.469 mills; and could go higher if the proposed two mill tax increase is adopted by the Fulton County Commission.

Edwards also argued against unincorporated south Fulton residents joining an existing city such as Atlanta, Chattahoochee Hills, Fairburn, Palmetto, or Union City; saying that annexation into an already established city could result in higher taxes for the same or decreased services.

"As your district commissioner, I have reviewed all the facts and strongly believe that we should remain unincorporated at this time," Edwards said.

A Georgia Unfiltered comparison between south Fulton taxes and taxes in nearby cities show the proposed south Fulton millage rate would be higher than millage rates [in parentheses] in Atlanta (10.240), Chattahoochee Hills (10.958), Fairburn (9.98), Palmetto (8.50), and Union City (10.598). The property tax rates in these five cities pay for services like police, fire, zoning and planning, parks and recreation, environment and community development, and public works.

The proposed 12.469 property tax rate for unincorporated south Fulton pays for the same services residents in nearby cities currently receive.