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Property taxes expected to rise in Fulton County and cities

With higher Fulton County property values, it’s likely residents will see higher bills this fall.

Last year, property values increased an average of 13 percent in the county, before commissioners voted to freeze them at 2016 levels. This year, residential values are up even higher than 2017 levels: on average, an additional 11 percent in Atlanta and 19 percent in the rest of the county.

The county’s taxing jurisdictions — schools, cities and county government — can offset higher property values by reducing their tax rates. So far, though, the rates proposed don’t cancel out the increases in values.

In some cases, the tax rates will remain the same, but with higher values, residents can expect to pay more.

Fulton County will hold two public hearings Wednesday to allow residents to weigh in on its proposed rate of 10.38 mills — one at the 10 a.m. commission meeting and one at 6 p.m., both at the Fulton County Government Center. Commissioners are slated to vote on the tax rate, which is the same as last year’s, on Aug. 1. But county leaders say the tax rate could change, depending on how many people have appealed their appraised values.

As it is, leaving the rate the same would mean the county brings in 15 percent more in tax revenue, an estimated increase of $82.5 million. Not all of that money would go to the county. Some would go to tax allocation districts.

Other taxing districts that plan tax increases also will hold the public hearings required by law, though not all have been scheduled.

Atlanta Public Schools, which makes up the bulk of an Atlanta homeowner’s tax bill, expects to collect more in tax revenue — an increase of about 19 percent, or $110.8 million — even with plans to reduce the rate from 21.74 to 20.74 mills. The school district said it does not expect to collect the full amount, saying that some funds will go to tax allocation districts and not the district, and that a high rate of property value appeals could also affect collections.

In Sandy Springs, the proposed tax rate of 4.731 mills has been the same for years. This year, though, it would mean an 11 percent increase in tax revenue, or $3.77 million more for the city. In Alpharetta, the proposed tax rate of 4.77 mills is slightly higher than the 2017 rate, which was 4.72 mills. That’s a 16 percent increase to the coffers, or $3.7 million more.

Johns Creek dropped its proposed rate, to 3.87 mills from 4.36 mills, but the rollback still allows for a 6.41 percent increase in tax funds, and $1.2 million more for the city.

And Chattahoochee Hills’ plan to leave its rate alone, at 10 mills, would amount to a 32.89 percent increase in revenue — an additional $499,609.

Other Fulton cities and Fulton County schools have yet to advertise their proposed rates, or didn’t respond to requests for information about their plans.

The county government and Sandy Springs have homestead exemptions in place that limit the annual property value increase for most homeowners, which lowers tax bills. This fall, residents in Alpharetta, Mountain Park, Milton, Johns Creek, Roswell, and those who live in the Fulton County school district will have the opportunity to vote on exemptions that would limit value increases to 3 percent a year. If passed, they would not go into effect until 2019. 

Other Atlanta-specific exemptions are also on the November ballot. One would increase the base homestead exemption for APS from $30,000 to $50,000 until 2021. Another would let residents vote on a homestead exemption on Atlanta city taxes that would limit assessed values from going up more than 2.6 percent each year.

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