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As questions persist, work to fix Fulton County assessments continues

If all goes as planned, new Fulton County property assessments will go out in early August, with bills to follow this fall.

The delay in the process, which came about after county commissioners elected to re-use 2016 values following complaints about large increases, is causing plenty of questions for residents and governments alike.

The Fulton County Board of Commissioners voted to freeze high property taxes at 2016 levels.

Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves is holding tax assessment workshops throughout the month to try to answer some of those questions. At the same time, a team of county officials is meeting weekly behind the scenes to ensure that the new assessments are correct and that problems are minimized.

“It’s not perfect, but we tried to make the best out of a tough situation,” Eaves said.

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At the Buckhead Library last week, about two dozen people came to learn what assessed value even is, and how their own values were calculated.

People in attendance included Nancy Meister, vice chair of the school board at Atlanta Public Schools. She, like others, was concerned about an expected delay in tax revenues that could have an impact on the school district’s operations.

“We don’t know when the bills are coming out or how we’re going to pay them,” she said.

The county is taking steps to follow a tight schedule to assessments, then bills can be sent. Both are coming later than usual, which could have an impact on government operations. Some governments, including the schools, may need to borrow money to account for the delay.

Normally, the assessments and bills come out of unrelated processes. Fulton County Manager Dick Anderson said this is the first time the groups have worked on assessment and tax issues together, rather than in silos.

New code had to be written to ensure that some exceptions to the assessment freeze — like new construction — were assessed correctly. The county had to communicate with residents about what was going on. Leaders also had to make sure the printers knew they would be getting an order for new notices.

And there were robust conversations about what should be communicated to groups like the school boards before final numbers were in place, and how to ensure the Board of Assessors had all the information it needed to approve the new values so assessment notices could be sent.

“For the government to make this happen is no small undertaking,” Anderson said. “The good news is, everything is moving as planned.”

The AJC's Arielle Kass keeps you updated on the latest happenings in Fulton County government and politics. You'll find more on myAJC.com, including these stories:

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