As most Fulton County residents are aware, there is a systemic problem with not only the recent property tax assessments but with issues that have involved the Fulton County Tax Assessors Office for many years. This department has come under scrutiny for issues with inaccurate appraisals, unfrozen appeals, members not working well together, lawsuits, etc. The recent uproar over the proposed 2017 property tax assessments brought many of these issues to the forefront.
In early June the Senate State and Local Government Operations Committee, which I chair, held a meeting to address the 2017 property tax assessment issue. The meeting was attended by the committee members, the Fulton County Delegation, Commission, City Council members and members of the community. The meeting showed that we can all come together and work to provide a solution for our citizens. After the productive meeting, the Fulton County Commission issued a reversal for the 2017 property tax assessments.
The recent reversal is a victory and a first step in the right direction.
Although this reversal will bring relief to Fulton County residents, the work cannot and will not stop here. I am proposing legislation now that I plan to introduce during the 2018 legislative session. This legislation will change the law for Fulton County and limit the tax increase residents see each year by creating a three percent cap on property tax assessment increases. The three percent cap would apply to Atlanta, other cities in Fulton and Fulton County.
This proposed legislation also addresses much needed senior citizen property tax exemptions. By passing this legislation, we would decrease the chances of something like the surprise 2017 tax increase from happening again since a three percent cap would be in place. It is my hope that this legislation will provide a bit of certainty and comfort.
It is my absolute intention to pass this legislation which addresses multiple changes in Fulton County during the next legislation session. Work is being done ahead of the session to ensure there is plenty of time to get everyone on the same page to ensure the legislation moves efficiently through the legislative process. After this proposed legislation is passed and signed into law, the goal is to apply the changes statewide to a broken property tax system. If other states like California can get much needed property tax reform legislation passed, why can’t the state of Georgia?
We must do all we can to ensure our citizens are not dealt the same card twice. No one wants to be surprised by an increase like this or placed in this situation. Rather than dwell on why this happened, I would like to focus on how we can fix the problem and ensure it never happens again. We must break the cycle and show our citizens we can fix what is broken and provide solutions quickly and efficiently.
State Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, represents a north Fulton County district.