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30 December 2014

Democrats Who Opposed Fulton County Property Tax Cap Now Support It in City of South Fulton Bill

Members of the south Fulton County community have frequently heard state Representative LaDawn Blackett Jones (D - Atlanta) and other legislators say House Republicans introduced thirteen bills designed to destroy Fulton County.

"All of the bills were aimed at disrupting services in Fulton County," Jones wrote in an email to constituents. "I was vocal during session and voted against each because we cannot gut funding for the core operations of the County without increasing disparities."

Among those thirteen pieces of legislation opposed by Representative Jones was House Bill 604.

House Bill 604, which was passed by the Georgia General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Deal in 2013, capped property taxes in Fulton County at its 2013 level until 1 January 2015. After that date, the law required five of the seven county commissioners to vote yes before taxes could be raised again.

Fitch Ratings, a credit agency, warned against the passage of House Bill 604 as they lowered Fulton County's credit rating.

"New property tax restriction a credit negative," an April 2013 report from Fitch Ratings read.

Rep. Jones and other members of the south Fulton County legislative delegation cast no votes on House Bill 604 [SOURCE: House Vote #314, 21 March 2013; Senate Vote #283, 26 March 2013].

Now, as the debate heats up again on the issue of creating a new city of South Fulton, legislators who were once opposed to freezing property tax increases are now for it.

State Representatives Roger Bruce, Virgil Fludd, and Ronnie Mabra voted against capping Fulton County property taxes in 2013.

Bruce, Fludd, and Mabra are listed as sponsors of House Bill 27.

House Bill 27, legislation that creates the city of South Fulton in Fulton County, contains a provision that caps property taxes in the proposed city at the rate of 13.469.

Taxes in the would-be city are currently set at a rate of 12.469.

In order to raise property taxes past the legislature-imposed cap, voters would have to approve higher taxes in a referendum authorized by the city council.

House Bill 27 is expected to be introduced during the 2015 legislative session.