ATLANTA -- Two school systems are joining the county in which they operate - and taking their fight for cash to court - now that a rejected tax digest is threatening to cut off cash flow to their thousands of employees and services.
A very long and detailed court filing boils down to attorneys for Fulton County government asking a judge to force 2017’s property tax bills to be sent out. Fulton County Schools, Atlanta Public Schools, and Johns Creek have also filed with the court to attach themselves to the county’s request.
But 11Alive has been told this case isn’t the first of its kind.
Hearing the case will be DeKalb County judge Alan Harvey after Fulton County judges recused themselves.
If Judge Harvey approves a temporary collection (TCO) would be created leading to the county sending out property tax bills.
It’s all detailed in state law - specifically 48-5-310 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) which deals with the temporary collection of taxes pending approval or appeal of disapproval of the digest.
Attorneys familiar with the case and those involved with it said the judge will have three options in handling the request.
- Use 2016’s tax values: Residential and commercial taxpayers would be billed the same amount as the previous year.
- Use 2017’s tax digest: It hasn’t been approved by the state, but the digest calls for residential taxpayers to be billed the same as 2016 and for commercial property owners to be billed at a newly assessed value.
- Compromise: The judge could come up with an option somewhere in the middle
So why does this matter? Fulton’s court filing states this covers property taxes for Fulton County and the cities of Atlanta, Chattahoochee Hills, Johns Creek, Mountain Park, Sandy Springs and South Fulton. Atlanta Public and Fulton County schools’ superintendents both tell 11Alive that property tax makes up more than 60 percent of their revenue.
Both school districts confirmed on Wednesday that they were nearly broke and could be forced to close their doors in December if property taxes aren’t collected soon.
This hearing comes with precedent, however. In various situations, judges have previously made TCOs in Fulton County – including 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 and, most recently, 2010.
The judge is scheduled to hear this case on Friday at 1:30 p.m. in the Fulton County Superior Courthouse. Sources tell 11Alive that a decision is expected the same day. We will have a reporter in the courtroom and will update on that ruling as soon as it is released.