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Fulton County Lawmakers Want to Lower Property Taxes, Add Commissioners

Legislators from Alpharetta, Milton and Johns Creek have plans for county government.

CORRECTION: A zero was left off the chart below, making it seem $50,000 homes the most taxed property in the county – except it was supposed to be $500,000.

If state lawmakers from Alpharetta, Milton and Johns Creek have their way, Fulton County residents will see lower property taxes, have another county commissioner to represent them and know that new county employees will be evaluated based on their performance.

Rep. Jan Jones, R-Milton, is introducing legislation today to double the homestead exemption for Fulton County homeowners to $60,000. If the bill passes, county residents will vote on it in 2014.

“As a 30-year resident of Fulton County, I understand how burdensome our high county property taxes are for homeowners,” the Speaker Pro Tempore said. “I want to enable taxpayers to stay in Fulton County if they choose to instead of escaping to lower-cost counties.”

The homestead exemption would be phased in over two years.

Fulton property tax rates also would be frozen for two years at the current 10.281 mills. A supermajority vote of the county commission would be required to raise them.

According to Jones, in both the 2011 and 2012 county budgets, Fulton County’s per capita expenditures were more than double those of Gwinnett County and 40 percent higher than those of Cobb County.

Effects Of The Homestead Exemption

Home Value Current Property Tax After Homestead Exemption Increase $500,000 $1,748 $1,439 $250,000 $720 $411 $150,000 $493* $0

*All other numbers provided by Rep. Jones' office

North Fulton lawmakers have found it's easier to legislate controls on Fulton County government than to re-form Milton, and they've been promising to do that for years.

Wednesday's release from Jones said the delegation will focus on increasing efficiency and effectiveness in the court, library, and employment systems, as well as the elections board. They also plan to reapportion county commission seats.

Lawmakers Redraw Districts to Add a County Commissioner

Rep. Lynne Riley, R-Johns Creek, announced the plans to redraw Fulton County Commission districts. The chairman of the Fulton delegation said this is required by the U.S. Constitution to reflect changing population trends within the county.

"Due to the tremendous growth our county has experienced, this legislation will add a new district seat to the Commission. This will result in six district seats and one chairman elected at large," Riley said.

She said the county historically has added districts to reflect population increases. Riley also said the map "is fair, complies with constitutional and federal mandates, respects precinct boundaries and communities of interests, and consists of compact districts.”

Performance-Based Evaluations for County Workers

Any new county employees might need to watch their own performance on the job. Rep. Chuck Martin, R-Alpharetta, will introduce local legislation that would move Fulton County to a performance-based system for evaluating county employees.

“Taxpayers expect accountability in their government and efficient use of their tax dollars, which are lacking under the current system,” said Martin.

All Fulton County employees in all branches and divisions within the county government hired after the legislation’s effective date would be covered under the law, but the status of current employees would not change. If a current employee changes jobs within county government, then he would fall under the performance-based evaluation process. Salaries or other benefits would not be affected by his legislation.

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