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15 August 2016

South Fulton May See a Tax Increase in 2016

Property owners on the southside of metro Atlanta may feel the burn when they receive their tax bills this year.

Fulton County Commissioners are considering a tax increase for unincorporated south Fulton County. The proposed rate would move from 11.579 to 12.009, if approved by Commissioners at their 17 August 2016 meeting.

Tax revenue from south Fulton County pays for services like police, fire, zoning and planning, parks and recreation, environment and community development, and public works.

South Fulton residents have seen their taxes increase seven of the last eight years, while county spending in their communities remained largely the same.

A review of Fulton County budget documents show that, in 2008, the south Fulton tax rate was 5.659. Fulton County Commissioners approved $46,408,325 in spending that year. In 2015, south Fulton's tax rate was 11.579. The 2015 adopted south Fulton budget set spending at $50.8 million.

County budget writers say the tax increases were mainly due to lower property values in unincorporated south Fulton and the need to maintain the same level of service as in the previous year. To maintain the same level of police coverage provided in 2008, Fulton County Commissioners had to raise property taxes in 2009. In order to maintain the 2009 service levels, Commissioners had to raise south Fulton taxes again in 2010.

This pattern continued until 2015. 2015 was the first year, since 2008, that Fulton County approved a tax decrease for south Fulton.

But it appears higher taxes may be back, and annexation could be a big reason why.

The cities of Atlanta, Chattahoochee Hills, College Park and Union City annexed a total of 922.79 acres this year. The land is valued at more than $45 million. Much of the annexed land consisted of prized commercial property like the Wal Mart and Publix on Cascade Road, the Manheim Atlanta Auto Auction on Buffington Road, as well as the upscale Cascade Falls community.

Losing such significant properties to other cities seems to have left county commissioners with no other choice than to increase taxes yet again.

Fulton County Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the proposed south Fulton tax increase, 17 August 2016. The meeting is scheduled to start at 10:00AM at the Fulton County Government Center, located at 141 Pryor Street in Atlanta.