Attorney Charles Huddleston (left) and Meria Carstarphen, superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools, are all smiles after DeKalb Judge Alan Harvey agreed to allow Fulton County to collect tax money using a temporary collection order in 2017. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM AJC FILE PHOTO

Fulton County again petitions court to collect property taxes

For the second year in a row, Fulton County is asking the court’s permission to be able to collect property taxes.

The request, filed in Fulton County Superior Court Friday, says taxes for the county government, school systems, cities and community improvement districts can’t be collected without the court’s intervention.

That’s because of the number of appeals that were filed by property owners this year, as values jumped. As of Aug. 1, the filing said, there were 42,686 pending appeals and $5.9 billion in value was in dispute.

VIDEO: In other Fulton news

Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik first reported on the allegations in May, after now-former board of assessors member R.J. Morris brought them up during a board meeting.

If the number of and value of the appeals each exceed 8 percent of the total tax digest, no taxes can be collected without the court’s go-ahead. In Fulton, the number of appeals represented 11.58 percent of the total, and the value was 8.25 percent.

Without a court’s approval, the filing said, the county will not be able to pay salaries, pay debts or maintain its credit rating.

Last year, a judge allowed Fulton County to begin collecting taxes under a similar order, after the state Department of Revenue rejected the county’s tax digest. Fulton officials had frozen residential property values at the previous year’s levels in response to resident pushback of high values, but the department questioned the legality of the move.

The 2017 tax digest still has not been approved, though property taxes were collected last year using the temporary approval. A hearing will be set later this month to hear arguments on the county’s request.

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