Amid outrage over a huge boost in property assessments, Fulton County is rescinding residential appraisals and asking the state legislature for new laws to to prevent a repeat of the pain in 2018.
The Fulton County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously June 21 to rescind 2017 property tax appraisals and instead use 2016 appraisals.
The resolution passed by the board directs the Board of Assessors to use the 2016 valuations with some modifications to include new construction. Commercial properties will still be taxed at 2017 levels.
This move means residents will face sharply increased appraisals next year unless the General Assembly acts, said Commissioner Lee Morris, who represents parts of Sandy Springs and all of Buckhead.
“The solution we have is a temporary solution,” Chairman John Eaves said before the vote.
When asked what will happen with the appraisals in 2018, Morris laughed and said, “That’s a great question.”
The decision essentially passes the buck to the state legislature to solve the problem. Commissioners are hoping the legislators are able to create a cap on the percentage increase of appraisals and exemptions the county doesn’t have the power to create, such as breaks for seniors. The increased valuations could also be spread out over a few years instead of applied all at once, Morris said.
“I really don’t like kicking the can down the road,” said Marvin Arrington, the District 5 commissioner. “A freeze this year means we’ll just deal with same thing next year,” Arrington said, but he ultimately voted for the resolution.
State Rep. Deborah Silcox, whose district includes parts of Sandy Springs and Buckhead, attended a June 19 town hall meeting on the appraisals and said legislators are aware of the tax increases and will try to address them in the next legislative session.
Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul and state Rep. Wendell Willard, who is also the Sandy Springs city attorney, emphasized at a June 21 city council meeting that Fulton County is basing this rescinding on an 1880s law that may not hold up in court. They emphasized that if people believe their assessment is inaccurate, they should file an appeal even though the appraisals were rescinded. Appeals can be submitted until July 10.
The vote to rescind the 2017 appraisals comes after residents voiced frustration over higher property valuations for tax purposes and what they see as a lack of transparency in the Board of Assessor’s office. Over 200 residents came to two town hall meetings held by Fulton County officials in Buckhead and Sandy Springs to ask questions and express concerns.
–John Ruch contributed