City of Atlanta residents and five other Fulton County cities will have the opportunity to vote on referendums in the Nov. 6 election that would cap property tax increases for homeowners. This seemingly simple choice has a twist for City of Atlanta residents, however.
In five Fulton County cities – Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton, Mountain Park, and Roswell – voters will be asked, “”Do you approve a new homestead exemption from the City of (fill in name of any of the five cities) property taxes for city purposes in the amount of the difference between the current year assessed value of a home and its lowest base year value, provided that the lowest base year value will be adjusted yearly by the lesser of 3 percent or the inflation rate?”
The answer to that question – “yes” – seems easy enough. It’s when City of Atlanta residents’ property taxes are at stake that things get more complicated.
Due to the failure of the City of Atlanta’s legislative delegation to cooperate with the state legislature, a separate statewide ballot measure was passed by the legislature to protect City of Atlanta homeowners from exorbitant property tax assessment increases, the likes of which have been levied over the last two assessment years. Legislation authors, District 52 State Rep. Deb Silcox, R-Sandy Springs and District 54 State Rep. Beth Beskin, R-Atlanta, got the statewide ballot measure passed (House Bill 820) which calls for capping the city portion of homesteaded property tax bills at 2.6% but describes the city as “a municipal corporation that is located in more than one county, that levies a sales tax for the purposes of a metropolitan area system of public transportation, and that has within its boundaries an independent school system, located in more than one county, that taxes for public transportation and has an independent school district.”
Atlanta, which straddles Fulton and DeKalb counties, has a public school system that serves both, and has MARTA, is the only city in Georgia that fits the criteria of House Bill 820. The statewide nature of the ballot referendum means voters from Dalton to Valdosta and everywhere in-between will decide the fate of City of Atlanta taxpayers. If approved, the referendum would allow City of Atlanta taxpayers to choose their lowest base value year from 2016-2018 and have it adjusted upward for inflation. This would apply to all taxable years beginning January 1, 2019. Tax assessments for the 2018 tax year would not be affected.
Anyone who is interested in preserving the health of the housing market in these cities should be sure to vote “yes” for these measures on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
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