Fulton County tax bills will not go out on time, delaying collections


A problem that has kept Fulton County from setting its millage rate will mean residents’ tax bills are delayed for at least a month and revenue collections will likewise be delayed.

If the county, cities or school districts borrow money to cover the gap between when taxes were expected and taxes arrive, it means that some of the taxes that residents pay will go toward paying interest and administrative fees for the borrowing, as opposed to paying for programs. The county may also consider delaying some programs, if the problem persists, Fulton County Chief Financial Officer Sharon Whitmore said.

The bills usually go out in July or August, and are due October 15. But a problem in calculating the tax digest means tax bills will not be sent before mid-September, and payment would not be due until November, at the earliest.

The delay increases the likelihood that Fulton County, its cities and the schools will have to borrow money to meet their obligations. A spokeswoman for Fulton County schools, Susan Hale, said in an email that the district is “watching our cash situation closely” and will have to borrow “if the delay continues for an extended time.”

“(Tax bills) will not go out according to the normal time frame this year,” Whitmore said. “It’s a big deal. We need to resolve it.”

Fulton County has not yet set its tax rate because the system that calculates the tax digest had trouble differentiating between increases due to reassessed property and those that come from new growth.

Georgia law requires governments to decrease the millage rate as values rise, or to advertise that they are increasing taxes if values rise and the millage rate stays the same. Without knowing what the actual values are, Fulton has been able to do neither.

David Fitzgibbon, Fulton’s chief appraiser, said in an email that there had been indications last summer that there might have been an error in the calculation. Attempts to fix the problem this summer only uncovered more issues with the calculations.

At a Fulton County commission meeting Wednesday, Vice Chairman Liz Hausmann said everything the county does is predicated on collecting taxes. To say that there will be a delay in doing so is a problem, she said, is a “major understatement.”

“This is no way to do business,” she said. “I don’t know at what point we declare that an emergency, but I think we’re kind of close.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Georgia Politics

Democrats aim for suburbs in Alabama ahead of Deep South votes
Democrats aim for suburbs in Alabama ahead of Deep South votes

Amanda Wilson has watched with a mix of glee and uncertainty as the imposing homes along this wealthy suburban town’s zigzagging streets has suddenly sprouted Democratic signs. “I’m a blue dot in a big red state,” said Wilson, a 64-year-old retiree. “But I don’t feel as lonely anymore.” Republican U.S. Senate...
Georgia Senate meetings will be live-streamed after Thanksgiving
Georgia Senate meetings will be live-streamed after Thanksgiving

Beginning the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday, Georgians who are interested in watching state senators at work can live-stream committee meetings being held in the statehouse. Members of the Georgia Senate on Friday held a mock committee meeting led by Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer, R-Duluth, to test out the new wiring and equipment....
Atlanta mayor under fire amid debate over illegal immigration
Atlanta mayor under fire amid debate over illegal immigration

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is drawing fire from multiple sides in the hot-button debate over illegal immigration after recently announcing the city had joined a nationwide effort in finding legal help for immigrants facing deportation. When Reed announced the city’s new policy this month, he called Atlanta a “welcoming city that stands up...
The Right points to Franken as a symptom of the Left’s hypocrisy
The Right points to Franken as a symptom of the Left’s hypocrisy

The Right has always questioned Franken’s qualifications for the Senate. The revelations of sexual misconduct by the Minnesota  Democrat have added fuel to the fire. A roundup of editorials Friday takes a look at the issue. From The Boston Herald: It’s “physician heal thy self” when it comes to sexual harassment in Congress...
In the light of the news about Al Franken, will the Left own its own sexual misconduct issues?
In the light of the news about Al Franken, will the Left own its own sexual misconduct issues?

Will Sen. Al Franken’s conduct call into question Democrats’ commitment to championing women who have been sexually harassed? A roundup of editorials Friday takes a look at the issue. The Week: Do the Democrats take sexual harassment seriously? We’ll see. From The New Yorker: As the two apologies from Franken show, men still need...
More Stories