Fulton County files petition to get tax digest approved in court

Feb 01, 2018
Fulton County Attorney Patrise Perkins-Hooker will defend Fulton County’s decision to roll back property values in 2017. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM AJC FILE PHOTO

Fulton County has filed a petition requesting a judge approve its $61.3 billion tax digest after the state Department of Revenue refused to.

In the filing, made Wednesday in Fulton County Superior Court, Fulton County attorney Patrise Perkins-Hooker said Revenue Commissioner Lynne Riley breached her duties in refusing to approve the digest.

VIDEO: Previous coverage of this issue

In a presentation to Fulton County commissioners Wednesday, the county manager and tax assessor promised full compliance with state law, more transparency and accountability in the process.

Though the state has refused to approve tax digests before, it is rare — the last time was in Wayne County, in 2014 — and the issues are usually resolved.

This is the first time a county has had to go to court to get approval for its tax digest. The action, the petition said, creates uncertainty for the county, as well as cities and school districts that rely on the county’s digest to set their own tax rates.

Additionally, the filing said, it creates uncertainty about whether this year’s tax digest will be approved.

Citing those concerns, the county is asking a judge to approve Fulton’s decision to keep most residential property values at artificially low 2016 levels for the 2017 tax year after complaints from residents about jumps in their property values led commissioners to roll them back.

Fulton failed to keep up with rising values, and in the first assessments sent in 2017, half of the county’s nearly 320,000 parcels gained at least 20 percent in value, and nearly 25 percent had value increases of 50 percent or more.

Residents have already paid 2017 property taxes at the adjusted levels, but could be required to pay additional 2017 taxes if a judge decides the state was right to reject the digest.

A spokesperson for the Department of Revenue said the department does not comment on ongoing litigation. Perkins-Hooker declined to comment on the filing. No hearing date has been set.

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