More people appealed Fulton property values than initially thought

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 in 2017. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM AJC FILE PHOTO

The number of Fulton County property owners who filed appeals after their values increased is even higher than officials initially reported.

As of Wednesday, there were 42,686 pending appeals and $5.9 billion in value was in dispute, according to a court filing. Fulton officials originally said 39,878 people had filed appeals. The bulk of them — more than 37,000 — were residential appeals, though most of the value in dispute is commercial property.

VIDEO: Previous coverage on this issue

Justin Wilfon attended the meeting in Fulton County.

The high number of appeals led Fulton County to ask the court, for the second year in a row, for permission to collect property taxes. Because the number of appeals and the value of those appeals each exceed 8 percent of the total tax digest, the county needs court approval before it sends its tax bills.

The number of appeals represents 11.58 percent of the total parcels, and the value is 8.25 percent of the total digest.

In a Friday filing in Fulton Superior Court, county attorney Patrise Perkins-Hooker said the county will not be able to pay salaries and debts or maintain its credit rating unless the court steps in and allows it to collect enough taxes to keep operating.

In addition to Fulton County, approval of the petition would allow all Fulton cities, school systems and community improvement districts to collect property taxes. A hearing will be set later this month.

Last year, a judge allowed Fulton County and other government entities 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.

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