Dwight Robinson, chief appraiser for Fulton County, speaks to county residents about their property assessments. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM AJC FILE PHOTO

Fulton County to set lower tax rate Wednesday

Fulton County commissioners are scheduled to approve the tax rate Wednesday, a crucial step in the effort to send residents tax bills in October.

The proposed rate of 10.38 mills is a 0.7 percent decrease over last year’s rate. Sharon Whitmore, the county’s chief financial officer, said residents with a $250,000 house and a standard homestead exemption would save about $5 on their tax bill for the year.

County commissioners could still choose to reduce the tax rate further, but cannot increase it without holding several public hearings. A public hearing will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Fulton’s Assembly Hall.

Normally, tax bills are sent in August and money is collected in October. But this spring, when the county’s board of assessors sent property assessments to residents countywide, many people were shocked by large increases to their property values.

They complained to commissioners, who decided to freeze most residential assessments at 2016 levels.

That process required Fulton send out new assessments, and delayed the entire taxing process.

In addition to the county tax rate, cities and other taxing jurisdictions are setting their own tax rates. Fulton commissioners are scheduled to ratify the Fulton County schools’ tax rate later this month.

Fulton has a tight timeline to set its tax rate and send bills: it has to pay back a $200 million loan by Dec. 29, and only has $146 million in reserves, not enough to cover the bill.

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