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FULTON COUNTY, Ga. -- The Fulton County Commission moved a step closer Wednesday to approving a controversial new tax hike - the first in more than 20 years.

The 17 percent increase would be the first time the county has raised property taxes since 1991.

"There's a $48 million shortfall in our budget right now," Commission Chairman John Eaves said.

But opponents say the county should instead rein in spending and cut services.

"We need to do a better job of reining in our spending rather than just going back to the taxpayer," Commissioner Liz Hausmann said.

The commissioners voted to authorize three public hearings in advance of the July 16 final vote. Public hearings will be held on Wednesday, July 9 at 10 AM and 6 PM and Wednesday, July 16 at 10 a.m.

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