Robb Pitts (left), Chairman of Fulton County Board of Commissioners, celebrates with Meria Carstarphen, superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools, and Jeff Rose (right), superintendent of Fulton County Schools after Judge Alan Harvey ruled to allow Fulton County to collect tax money on Tuesday, August 14, 2018. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Fulton property tax measures are approved by voters

Voters in Atlanta and across Fulton County approved a number of local property tax measures Tuesday that were intended to appease residents upset over rising tax bills. All the measures were approved overwhelmingly.

They will go into effect in 2019, and will be reflected in property assessments and on residents’ tax bills after they are implemented.

The ballot measures were an attempt by elected officials to mitigate huge increases in property values in 2017 that led to higher property taxes for many.

Georgians were in line before the polls opened on Election Day.

There were eight different proposals on the ballot, impacting virtually every resident in Atlanta and Fulton County. The proposals will impact taxable property values in Atlanta and several cities in north Fulton and impact the Atlanta Public School district and Fulton County Schools.

Many of the tax measures will limit increases in homes’ taxable values for the sake of city or school taxes beginning in 2019.

— One, for the Atlanta Public Schools, will increase the homestead exemption from $30,000 to $50,000 in assessed value for homeowners, but will also require owners of lower-value homes to begin paying property taxes when they weren’t before.

Residents within the Atlanta school district until now have been exempt from paying school taxes on the first $30,000 of their home’s assessed value. With the measure passing, even the lowest income neighborhoods will have to pay. The measure requires homeowners to pay school taxes on the first $10,000 of assessed value.

— Residents statewide voted on a measure for Atlanta homeowners that will limit annual increases in taxable values. With its passage, those values won’t increase more than 2.6 percent each year for owner-occupied homes.

And residents won’t have to start with 2018 values, which for many people represented a sharp increase from past years. They can use the lowest assessed value from 2016, 2017 or 2018, plus 4.23 percent to account for inflation, to set their new base rate.

Proponents said the measure would provide predictability and stability to homeowners who were at risk of being taxed out of their homes, while opponents said the proposal was inequitable, and would lead to unequal tax burdens, penalizing renters or newer owners. That measure passed by a narrower margin than other tax measures on the ballot.

— Residents who live within the Fulton County Schools district and in Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton, Mountain Park and Roswell voted on proposals similar to the city of Atlanta’s.

In each area, property value increases for owner-occupied homes will be capped for tax purposes at 3 percent a year or the federal inflation rate. Fulton County and Sandy Springs already have similar measures.

Like in Atlanta, the base year would be the lowest of 2016, 2017 or 2018. Because Fulton County failed to keep up with rising property values for years, then froze most 2017 residential values at 2016 levels, many 2018 property values are substantially higher. Since Fulton is waiting for final approval of both its 2017 and 2018 tax digests, the actual values aren’t known.

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