State revenue head said she never gave Fulton County OK on tax plan


The state revenue commissioner said Monday that it wasn’t up to her to give Fulton County leaders permission to freeze property assessments at 2016 levels when residents complained their new values were too high.

“The state has no authority to intervene in the development of the tax digest until it’s presented to us,” said Lynne Riley, the commissioner of the state department of revenue. “Fulton County’s responsible for the development of their digest.”

Fulton leader’s had said they were in touch with Riley’s department as they took the unusual step of keeping residential property values, in most cases, at the same level they were a year ago. Commercial property values were not frozen, and in many cases increased.

Riley said she did talk to county representatives, who in September asked for an extension of the normal deadline for filing the tax digest. Still, she said, “we only opine on the digest presented to us.”

Former Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves and Bob Ellis, the vice chairman of the commission, have said repeatedly that they had been in touch with members of the revenue department about their plan for property values. Eaves said last week that he never got a “formal” opinion from the state about the proposal, but that the county “never got a red light.”

Eaves, a Democrat who resigned to run for mayor of Atlanta, accused Riley, a Republican former member of the Fulton Commission, of playing politics in rejecting the digest. She declined to respond to the accusation.

Ellis said Friday it was “unfortunate” that the state did not tell Fulton earlier that its digest would not go through.

“I’m disappointed in the communication,” he said. “I felt like we’d been in dialogue with them throughout the process.”

In a statement Monday, a spokesperson for the county said members of Fulton leadership “have been in regular communication with the Department of Revenue.”

“Fulton County’s leadership remains committed to working with and continuing dialogue to address” concerns, the statement said.

Late last month, the revenue department rejected Fulton County’s tax digest, saying it was full of errors — including a discrepancy between the assessed values of residential and commercial properties, Riley said.

Both the rejection and the county’s decision to freeze values delayed property tax bills. That stalled the collection of tax revenue for the county, two school districts and 15 cities, as well as a number of community improvement districts. Schools expect to furlough some employees and the county plans to tighten its own expenditures to ensure it has enough money to pay its bills.

On Friday, a judge granted a temporary collection order to allow the county to send tax bills at the frozen 2016 values. That will allow them to collect property tax revenue in order to keep governments functioning while the disagreement with the state continues. The bills are scheduled to go out Nov. 15, and will be due Dec. 31 in Atlanta and Jan. 15 in the rest of Fulton County.

Riley said she is willing to “assist in whatever ways we can” as the county works toward getting its values in order.

“I’m optimistic the challenges can be addressed,” she said.

MYAJC.COM: REAL JOURNALISM. REAL LOCAL IMPACT.

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:

 

Never miss a minute of what's happening in Fulton politics. Subscribe to myAJC.com.

More on this issue:



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Five things to know about Fulton County property assessments
Five things to know about Fulton County property assessments

Fulton County will send its 2018 property assessments out on Tuesday. If you own a home in the county, here are the five things you need to know. 1. RISING VALUES: In many cases, property values will be substantially higher this year. In 2017, Fulton County leaders froze values at 2016 levels after residents complained about huge jumps...
GSP: SUV crashes after chase; 1 dead, 1 at large
GSP: SUV crashes after chase; 1 dead, 1 at large

After a chase that went through two counties, a passenger in an SUV fleeing authorities was ejected and pronounced dead and the driver left the scene, the Georgia State Patrol said. About 11:25 p.m. Saturday, Georgia State Patrol troopers in Barrow County were notified that deputies were pursuing a gold Dodge Durango on Ga. 8 near Winder, the GSP said...
Accused Santa Fe shooter won't get death penalty -- and could get paroled someday 
Accused Santa Fe shooter won't get death penalty -- and could get paroled someday 

Even though Dimitrios Pagourtzis was charged as an adult in the mass shooting at a southeastern Texas high school Friday, he will not face the death penalty and could even be eligible for parole someday, the Houston Chronicle reported. Pagourtzis, 17, a high school junior, admitted to the shootings that killed 10 and wounded 13, according to court...
Trump demands Justice Department probe claims of spying on his 2016 campaign
Trump demands Justice Department probe claims of spying on his 2016 campaign

In a tweet Sunday afternoon, President Donald Trump said he will demand that the Justice Department investigate whether it or the FBI spied on his 2016 presidential campaign for political reasons, CNN reported. "I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated...
LSU football legend, Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon dead at 80
LSU football legend, Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon dead at 80

Billy Cannon, the 1959 Heisman Trophy winner who led Louisiana State University to a national title in 1958, died Sunday, The Advocate of Baton Rouge reported. He was 80. Cannon, a running back, is the only player in LSU football history to win the Heisman. His famous “Halloween run” -- an 89-yard punt return in the fourth quarter...
More Stories