One member of the Fulton County Board of Assessors says the board’s vote on May 11 to approve the 2017 tax digest was improper.
“I think the vote was improper because they only had a summary about 15 or 30 minutes before the vote," said R.J. Morris, a member of the Fulton Co. Board of Assessors. "More importantly they did not have the actual values until last week.”
11Alive News was the only television outlet at the May 11 Board of Assessors meeting during which they approved the 2017 tax digest.
That digest included double-digit property assessment increases for more than half of the 300,000+ Fulton County homeowners. During that meeting, there were maps on the walls which showed the assessment increases.
There were large pockets of homes in Milton, Chattahoochee Hills, and the City of Atlanta that received higher than 50 percent assessment increases. That equates to thousands more dollars in taxes each year.
Fulton Tax Revolt: Property assessment maps
Once homeowners began receiving their assessments in late May and early June, some found they had 200+% increases.
“Last year I paid $660, this year you're asking me to pay $3,000,” said Harry Cox, a Fulton County resident.
”I have a 365% increase in my taxes. I cannot afford to pay this,” said Michael Faust. “I’ve lived there 17 years and I’ve loved it and I’m going to be forced to sell.”
It was an issue mirrored by thousands of homeowners who attended town hall meetings from North Fulton to Atlanta.
A move to freeze property assessments at the 2016 rates and pause the process for thirty days, launched by County Councilmen John Eaves and Bob Ellis, was voted down by the Board of Assessors on June 15. The Board said the county attorney informed them they do not have the authority to freeze taxes at last year’s rate.
“There’s nothing more we can do,” said Board of Assessors member Brandi Hunter.
During the May 11 meeting, 11Alive News witnessed the Board of Assessors received a written summary of the 2017 tax digest from Chief Appraiser Robinson. During his presentation, Robinson told the board the average assessment was rising 13%. The Board of Assessors voted to approve the 2017 tax digest based on the brief presentation and summary provided.
"We never got the information and the vote should not have happened," said Morris.
Morris did not show up at the May 11 to vote on the 2017 digest because he did not have the information he felt he needed the complete report to make an informed decision.
Morris said he hopes the Fulton County Commission gets involved and looks into whether it was an improper vote or not.