Fulton County Property Assessments Might Get A Rollback

Fulton County officials have searched for solutions to address this year's property assessment hikes that have residents concerned.
Fulton County officials have searched for solutions to address this year's property assessment hikes that have residents concerned.
Credit Miranda Hawkins / WABE
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Fulton County’s Board of Commissioners will vote Wednesday on whether or not to rescind this year’s property assessments.

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Homeowners have been up in arms over spikes in their property values; some higher than 50 percent. These property assessments dictate how much people pay in taxes.

Fulton Commission Chairman John Eaves said his office found an obscure 1880’s law that gives Fulton’s Board of Commissioners power to rescind property assessments.

“Good news is for the existing property owners who had a tremendous spike in their assessments, they’re going to go back to the 2016 level,” Eaves said.

Fulton’s Board Of Assessors’ Response

Last Thursday, Fulton County’s Board of Assessors told Eaves and Fulton Commission Vice Chair Bob Ellis that it could not rescind the 2017 assessments because it can’t legally do so, since Georgia’s Department of Revenue sets the tax process for every county. Eaves and Ellis had asked the board to invalidate this year’s assessments pending a 30-day review.

However, the board did address other concerns raised by Eaves and Ellis. It voted to reinstate a property value freeze for some residents who were supposed to be protected from an increase. It also voted to update its website to show real-time property assessments.

Dwight Robinson, the county’s chief appraiser, said the spikes are due to Fulton playing catch-up this year.

“The market has steadily increased from 2012 until this point,” Robinson said. “The increases, the magnitude of the increases, are as a direct result of us not keeping up with those values.”

The Georgia Senate Discusses The Spikes

Some Georgia state senators also recognize the need for a long-term solution to property assessment spikes.

Sen. John Albers led a special state Senate meeting on Monday to discuss the issue.

“I’ve had the pleasure of serving in the Georgia Senate for seven years,” Albers said. “And I have gotten more feedback on this issue, from 1,700 emails now, than any other issue in my time in office.”

Fulton County officials proposed possible solutions at that meeting, including caps and exemptions for seniors. Ellis also offered expanding Fulton’s Board of Assessors from three to five members.

Fulton County’s Residents React

Many Fulton residents have protested they will be forced to sell their homes or move out of the county because of these spikes.

Colleen Haile, who has lived in Roswell since 1991, said she’s glad to hear about the property assessment rollback. But she admitted it’s only a temporary solution for rising property values.

“We can’t ignore it,” Haile said. “It’s like kicking the can down the road. We have to do something.”

She said she would like to see caps on property value increases and exemptions for seniors.

Fulton County resident Jonathan Kline claimed he saw a 365-percent increase in his assessment.

“I’ve lived at my neighborhood for 10 years,” Kline said. “And I love my neighborhood. But if I have to pay this money, I’ll have to leave my neighborhood. And I’ll have to leave Fulton County.”