Fulton commissioners don’t have votes to advertise millage hike

Hausmann says county bond rating jeopardized



ATLANTA – The Fulton County Board of Commissioners was to consider advertising a millage rate increase of 1.57 mils at the June 4 BOC meeting, but with only four commissioners present, the measure failed to get the four-vote majority it needed.

For various reasons, Chairman John Eaves and Commissioners Liz Hausmann, Joan Garner and Tom Lowe were not present. Commissioner Robb Pitts, who opposed the budget’s tax increase, voted nay to defeat the measure.

The measure was put on hold until the June 18 recess meeting where it likely will find four votes.

The Fulton County fiscal year 2014 $628M general fund budget approved in January was based on this 1.57 millage rate increase.

Johns Creek’s Hausmann voted against the FY 2014 general fund budget in January, and said she will not support the proposed millage rate increase now.

The owner of a $350,000 home would have an additional property tax obligation of $175.

“My opinion has not altered from my statement of Jan. 27, which clearly defined my deep concern for the addition of a $17 million tax increase and a draw down on the reserve fund balance to 7.03 percent from our historical minimum amount of 8.33 percent,” Hausmann said. “Our [AAA] bond rating and daily operations will now be at a much greater risk.”

The economic recovery is beginning to gain momentum, so now is not the time to raise taxes in Fulton County, she said.

“We have yet to adequately determine our priorities and reductions necessary in non-mandated services and personnel,” Hausmann said. “I will not vote for any tax increase when the obvious need for restructuring continues to loom. A tax increase defeats our goals of a more efficient and effective government.”

Hausmann noted the county has made “significant cuts” in community programs, libraries and other county services. But the board is asking to balance the budget by spending down its reserves and raising the millage by 1.57 mils and fund a 3 percent across-the-board employee pay raise.

Hausmann supports the pay raise, but she called the millage rate increase “irresponsible.”

“It is even more difficult to understand cutting significant library services and hours as construction is under way to build eight new libraries. This budget also comes at the sacrifice of much needed funding to local nonprofit agencies that directly provide for essential safety net services to our most vulnerable citizens,” Hausmann said.

These include cuts to DFACS, Housing and Human Services grants and other safety net community partner programs that will stretch these local agencies more than they already are.

“I find that unacceptable,” she said.

JCH 06-12-14

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