Commissioners had already delayed a vote to approve the millage rate by three weeks, as they waited for the problem to be resolved. Thursday they approved a rate that would be no higher than the current level of 10.5 mills.
The “roll-back rate” — expected to be between 10.412 and 10.5 mills — was approved without an actual number in an effort to keep the tax bills on time.
Daniel Jones, owner of the property tax appeals company Fair Assessments, said he couldn’t recall a situation like this.
“It could cause problems,” he said. “I don’t know for certain what earthquake might happen.”
The mathematical error that caused the delay, which nearly led to unnecessary and unintended tax increases for Fulton residents, was supposed to be fixed in June.
The problem stems from the way in which property tax exemptions — tax breaks given to those whose homes are their primary residences, and others —were calculated. In Fulton County and its cities, the exemptions were too high. The error meant cities and the county could have inadvertently taxed residents more than they needed to by failing to roll back the rate.
Georgia law requires governments to decrease the millage rate as values rise, or to advertise that they are increasing taxes if values rise and the millage rate stays the same.
In order for the process to stay on track, commissioners must have advertised the new millage rate this week. But the problem was not fixed in time for the commissioners’ July 20 meeting.
“The truth is, I don’t have the answer yet,” David Fitzgibbon, chief appraiser for the Fulton County Board of Assessors, said Thursday as commissioners peppered him about when he would know the true numbers.