Category Archives: NewsWorthy

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The Property Tax Model is Broken Beyond Repair

Let’s be honest. The system of collecting taxes for county, city, and school taxes is broken. And the larger the area dependent on funding from property taxes, the more broken it becomes. North Fulton County residents pay tremendously more for the same county services than South Fulton residents.  Why?

Here are three reasons it needs to be scrapped:

  1. There is no correlation between the amount of taxes you pay and the amount of “services” you receive.

A family of six living in a $500,000 home and a family of two living in a $500,000 home, pay the same property taxes if they live in the same community.  Why?  What makes us feel its fair to collect three times as much tax on a per capita basis from one family than another?  What if the family of two lives in a home worth one million?  What makes it right to collect six times as much for the very same levels of services?  Should I mention that the family of six likely creates more demand for services than the family of two as well?

When property values are high, and tax rates are high, this can have the effect of driving out empty nester residents to avoid the high levels of taxes relative to the services they receive for those tax dollars.

2.  Property values rising(and falling) should have no impact on how much tax revenue is needed to run your county, cities, and schools.

We’ve seen property values fall during recessions and rise during better times.  This should have nothing to do with how many dollars are needed to provide services in your community.  Yet we have made the tax digest the first step in the taxation process, followed by each government agency voting on the millage rate to be applied to that tax digest.  Elected officials vote far more often on how much they will tax you than you have a chance to vote on whether or not they should remain in office.

Let’s add to that the huge infrastructure we now have in place at the Tax Assessor’s office to track every piece of property, every structure, and every improvement you make to your home, all in the effort to make sure every $ of real estate(real or imagined) is taxed.

Why on earth should you owe the government more dollars because you decided to finish your basement or add a deck?

The perverseness of this likely discourages residents from making improvements to their properties.

How much time and energy is used by the Tax Assessor’s office to gather all of this information?  How accurate is it?  Is it worth it?  Who is really benefitting?

3.  How many hours of effort will the Public spend appealing these assessments?

If 1/4 of the households in Johns Creek appeal, that could be as high as 7,000 homes.  Spend five hours on this process, and cumulatively we will have spent 35,000 hours fighting our high assessments.

Instead, why don’t we take a moment and consider a different system?  We do not tax each resident within an HOA a variable amount do we?  It’s a flat rate per household.  While not necessarily the same on a per capita basis, it is a fairer system than taxing each household based upon the value of their property.

What would a fixed property tax collected per residence look like?  First, it would treat all of us as equally as possible.

We would not need an army of government employees tracking our properties, needing to know everything about the inside and outside of our homes.

We would never have to appeal property taxes in the future.

Our governments would be accountable to us directly for the rate of taxation we face, and there would be no finger-pointing as to who is to blame.

The current system of taxation has more expensive property owners subsidizing the less expensive property owners.  In a society where wealth redistribution is frowned upon by most of us, it is curious to me why we are so willing to allow tax redistribution with property taxes, where the level of services received are so far removed from what the property owner pays in taxes.

Johns Creek could lead the way to a better model of taxation for its residents.  It’s time we slay the beast that taxation based on property values has become.   Taxation should not be unfair or onerous.

It’s time for a change.  Contact your locally elected officials and tell them you want a different system.  Tell them you want a better, more equitable system.

 

Fulton County Assessor Meeting – Location Changed to JCHS

District 1 Tax Assessment Meeting with Commissioner Liz Hausmann and Chief Appraiser Dwight Robinson
June 14, 2017 @ 7:00 pm
Johns Creek High School Auditorium

5575 State Bridge Road

Johns Creek, GA


How to Appeal Your Property Taxes

10 Steps to REDUCE your Tax Bill

1) File an online appeal here. This will schedule your appointment with the Board of Assessors. It will be some time before you hear back from them

1a)  Contact County Appraiser, Dwight Robinson and request the comps they are using for your assessment. 

2) Review your Property Records to ensure it is accurate, (fireplaces, beds, bathrooms, sq ft, etc)

3) Check for homestead deductions (homeowners & mostly for seniors)

4) Research recent sales in the Property Records of your neighborhood to find comparable homes

5) Review property assessments with the public records for comparables

6) Create a spreadsheet of comparables (3-5 Properties), and breakdown each property

  • – same exterior facade
  • – square foot comparison
  • – land value/ lot size comparison
  • – compare homes with more/less beds & baths, etc

7) Take pictures of the comparable homes

8) Set a reasonable value amount for your property

9) Prepare presentation: Create an easy to read packet to bring to your hearing

Front page – Picture of your house & the value “think” it is worth

Second Page – Spreadsheet with the breakdown of comparables

Next 5 pages – Pictures and info of each comparable property

Optional info:

Include pictures of the inside of your house, if it’s not upgraded

Pictures & details of backyard if it is sloped or devalued in some way

10) Attend your scheduled Hearing

*Have 7 packet copies to pass out to each board member!*

Be non-emotional and factual during the hearing

Present the data in a calm, logical manner

Good Luck!

Neighbors, do you have any suggestions?

Return to Sender: Federal HUD $$$

Federal HUD money to build an ADA Fishing dock & viewing platform in Shakerag Park is in the process of being returned.

This discussion didn’t go without a fight from Councilman Lenny Zaprowski, who stated within the Work Session meeting, ” I am a Big Proponent of these funds”. He strongly advocated for the City to keep the funds, regardless of the strings attached or qualification requirements.

Councilwoman Stephanie Endres stated the grant has stipulations and rules in which the City would have to meet to qualify for the funds, and the City doesn’t qualify.

City attorney chimed in that it would be “most prudent” to release(return) what funds we have left, back.

After discussion in the Work Session and 7 pm meeting,  the Council voted 5-2, to return the HUD money. Councilman Lenny Zaprowski & Councilwoman Cori Davenport voted to keep the funds.

A public hearing will take place on the issue and then 2014 funds would go back to Federal HUD office.

Fulton County Tax Appraiser Town Hall

Property taxes go up?

Fulton County Commissioner, Liz Hausmann is holding a Town Hall with Fulton County’s Chief Tax Appraiser Dwight Robinson.

Both will answers questions and discuss the Property Tax Appeal process.

June 14, Wednesday, 7 p.m.

Johns Creek Environmental Campus

8100 Holcomb Bridge Road.

 

Medlock Bridge Rd Congestion Relief: Proposal

Here is a concept for the City Council to consider that will provide a direct and exclusive use and traffic relief for residents.

Bury the power the lines and create a multi-use path for golf cart use on both sides of Medlock Bridge Rd. A wide path will allow for local residents to traverse to nearby areas, shops, and amenities etc. High School Students can go to school safely, by taking a golf cart on a dedicated path. Walkers, strollers & bicyclists can utilize these paths as well.

What Medlock Bridge Rd would look like with No Power Lines

A tree lined golf cart path will bring an aesthetic appeal to the community, and can improve our property values.

Burying the utility lines will bring reliability as storms disrupt service. Line Maintenance is easier and less frequent as well. This will also reduce the negative health impacts of overhead line (EMFs) electromagnetic fields.

The trees on Medlock Bridge Rd can grow, and will not need to be hacked every year.

So how can we do this?

It will cost approximately $7 million to bury 1 mile of distribution line and 3 miles of the high-powered transmission line from JCUMC to the river.

We have $18 million that has been allocated through TSPLOST for Medlock Bridge Rd.

Within the TSPLOST legislation, burying power lines is an approved authorized expense.

Code Section 48-8-121(b)(1)(D) Relocation of utilities for roads, streets, bridges, sidewalks, and bicycle paths;

A few months ago, hundreds of residents attended Town halls and Council Meetings to oppose Medlock Bridge Rd widening to 6 lanes. Why? Because non-resident would primary benefit.  

This is the one proposal that will be directly and exclusively for Johns Creek Residents.

If Medlock Bridge Rd is to be our “Premier Boulevard” as our Community Director has stated, let’s have that begin, by burying the power lines and making it a scenic road, that we can be proud of.

We have the money through TSPLOST. State Law will allow the City to utilize it in this manner, the time has never been better.

Atlanta Audubon Letter to City Council: Reject the Current Plan for Cauley Creek Park

Dear Mayor Bodker, Councilor Zabrowski, Councilor Lin, Councilor Davenport, Councilor Coughlin, Councilor Endres, and Councilor Broadbent,

I am writing to you on behalf of the board of directors, staff, and constituents of Atlanta Audubon Society to express our concerns about the proposed Cauley Creek Park Master Plan. We would like to encourage the Council to reject the current proposed master plan for Cauley Creek Park.

Atlanta Audubon Society believes that where birds thrive, people thrive. With nearly 1,000 chapter members and more than 3,500 National Audubon Society members, Atlanta Audubon represents a broad constituency united by a desire to protect birds and other wildlife through education, conservation, and advocacy. Our constituency includes residents of Johns Creek and birders that frequent its parks and greenspaces, including the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CRNRA) park units.

The Cauley Creek Park Master Plan concerns us because of (1) the sheer destruction of habitat that would occur with the creation of the park, (2) human disturbance to remaining habitat, and (3) the increased erosion and pollution entering the watershed from new development.

Currently, the Cauley Creek property, adjacent CRNRA property to the west, and the river area of that borders these properties supports more than 135 species of birds. We know this because our constituency walks Roger’s Bridge Road south from Bell Road for bird watching and data has been recorded in the worldwide database, eBird. These bird species use the area for foraging, nesting, and protection. Some species come in the spring and summer to breed; some come in the fall and winter to pass the cold months where there are good sources of food and shelter; and some are year-round residents that call this area home.

American Kestrel may have to find a new home

Within this list of 135 are rare and threatened species, including the state-listed “threatened” Bald Eagle and state-listed “rare” Henslow’s Sparrow. These two species have been significantly impacted by pollution and habitat destruction over many years. Although the Bald Eagle is recovering in Georgia, this is due to active conservation efforts. Additionally, 38 of these species are considered climate-threatened or climate-endangered by the National Audubon Society. This means that local populations of these birds’ habitats will likely be affected negatively by the predicted changes to the Earth’s climate. You can imagine our concern when 30% of the species that this area supports are already threatened by larger factors out of our local control. If Cauley Creek Park is developed based on the proposed master plan, most of the birds inhabiting the area will be forced to find new homes.

It is important to note that the large, open, and undisturbed meadow habitat on the Cauley Creek property is much of the reason that the area supports so many different types of birds and wildlife. Grasslands have been one of the fastest declining habitats in the state of Georgia for decades. Species such as Northern Harrier, Eastern Meadowlark, American Kestrel, Bobolinks, Sedge Wren, and a handful of sparrow species depend on these habitats and have experienced declining populations in Georgia. Johns Creek is lucky to have such a habitat along the Chattahoochee River migratory corridor—it is special and unique, and it should be preserved as much as possible.

A secondary impact to the surrounding habitat of the proposed Cauley Creek Park is disturbance. While some area will be maintained as natural vegetative buffers, the vast increase in human use, vehicular traffic, light, and noise will impact the wildlife that lives in these small buffer areas and in the adjacent CRNRA property. Combined with the additional numbers of people utilizing the future greenway path along Rogers Bridge Road extending across the River from Duluth, there will be little opportunity for nesting birds and other wildlife to succeed. So in addition to direct loss of habitat, what will be left for birds and other wildlife will be of diminished value.

Eastern Meadowlark resides in the Cauley Creek Meadows

Our third concern is for water quality and the Chattahoochee River corridor. In 1973, the state of Georgia passed the Metropolitan River Protection Act, a forward-thinking piece of legislation for its time to help communities along the Chattahoochee River protect their drinking water supply. This Act protects land and floodplain within 2,000 feet of the River from land-disturbing activity, and gave authority to a regional development center (Atlanta Regional Commission, ARC) to create and adopt the Chattahoochee Corridor Plan. 

48 “Senior” LENNAR Townhomes Proposed for Medlock Bridge Rd

 

The proposed development is to be shoehorned between the 141 shopping center with Benjamin Moore & Medlock Bridge Subdivision.

The developer is aiming to market to seniors and empty nesters. Not sure where there are many older people that will want a 3 story home.

192 residential parking spots are indicated, with 14 guests spots, 206 parking spots total. With so much parking for cars, the traffic count report the developer submitted appears to be very low. The traffic count indicated 22 cars in the AM Peak and 31 PM Peak. This appears very low considering many homes have at least 2 occupants and 2 cars.

No amenities are provided with this Development.

Reports submitted to the City suggest they plan to utilize Medlock Bridge Subdivision’s amenities & facilities. A walkway path has been included in the plans, including a description of the Medlock Bridge amenities.

From the Developer’s Environmental Report, page 6:

To the west of the site is an existing community with amenity that has green space and active amenity that will be used by this development.

This site will provide additional residence to help protect green space and add residents to utilize the parks and recreation nearby.

Variances requested to reduce setback from 40ft to 10ft.

This is to MAXIMIZE the land and squeeze in more units.

Source: City of Johns Creek

$54 MILLION Cauley Creek Park: How Much is TOO Much

Although the City has earmarked $16million of the Park Bond to build out Cauley Creek Park, with the 30 year bond with approx 3.5% current rate, it will cost about $34 million with fees, interest, and principal.

This is on top of the purchase price of  $20.3 million.

Proposed Cost Breakdown

Purchase Price: $20.3 Million

Build out Price: $16 Million

Bond Costs: $18 Million

Total Proposed Costs: $54.3 Million

 

According to Councilman Chris Coughlin, the City could have saved $16 million in 3 or 4 years with current millage and appropriated to build out, rather than borrowing money.

Residents, would you rather see some of this money reallocated for other Parkland acquisition in Johns Creek?

Considering a New Roof? Here Comes the Tax Man

Residents in Johns Creek are finding the city’s adoption and stepped up enforcement of Permissive building codes and permits, et al, is having an interesting consequence beyond anything publicly discussed so far.

The consequence involves a visit from the Fulton County tax assessor. In some cases, these are homeowners who have lived in the same house for 20+ years and may have had projects done many years ago under totally a different permitting authority and different rules. Yet now, after all this time, the county has suddenly awakened and is following up to reassess for tax purposes.

For some homeowners, a new roof is triggering the visit. The roofer must obtain a permit from Johns Creek to do the roof work. But interestingly, no one ever sees any follow-up on the part of the city to inspect or approve the quality or “life safety” of the new roof. So for such a project, one might ask, why require a permit? Don’t answer yet, read on.

It seems the city and the county have new and improved communication channels. The new roof permit from the city is prompting the attention of county tax assessors. He or she will then pay you a visit and look at any house roofline changes, regardless of the age of the associated project. If you ask, the assessor will tell you which recent permit prompted their sudden diligence. No excuses are offered about the county’s non-existent reassessment follow-up over the passing decades!

Presumably, the new roof itself doesn’t change your home’s value assessment. But be aware, during the visit the assessor might ask if you have re-done your kitchen or finished your basement or added other finished square footage since your last reassessment. Your last assessment may have been when you bought your house! And you better hope your home builder accurately filed your homes’ taxable details at the time of closing. But relax. The silver lining here is that such reassessment increases won’t be retroactive.

With the city’s Permissive Code permit enforcement, it won’t be long before Fulton County tax assessors won’t need to ask you anything about changes to your home. They will already know the changes and the costs, as filed with the required city permits. Finishing a room in your house, for example, would require any number of trade permits, all of which could trigger a county reassessment. And I shouldn’t have to tell you that part of this tax money goes to Johns Creek. We are told by our current city leaders that we need to grow, urbanize, expand business presence, widen roads, and be competitive. All of this requires money!

No one is advocating the avoidance of property tax responsibility. It’s just interesting to note how tax reassessment diligence has suddenly improved and what is actually driving this. If you have followed the Permissive Code topic in city meetings, you might now understand why the city struggles to provide a clear list of project work that requires permitting. This might make the dots a little too easy to connect for citizens.

If you have lived in your home for a while and you have had a Fulton County tax assessor visit you recently to review house projects that are old or very old, perhaps you can share your experience below.

Rivermont Community Garage Sale: May 19th & 20th

Maps will be given out at all participating houses.

Starting at 8 AM til 4 PM.

Watch for signs and balloons.

OVER 23 HOMES PARTICIPATING!

Off both, Barnwell and Nesbit Ferry Rds.

Tax Dollars Wasted on “Branding”: Logo that’s Similar to Beds Online

Were you held up in terrible traffic on the Medlock Bridge Rd last Saturday?

City Staff continues to waste the people’s money on implementing the City’s new logo.

Perfectly good Street signs (see the red circle below) are being replaced with identical signs, that also have the City’s new logo on the side.

Here is the new St Ives sign in blue to indicate it is a ‘private road’.

We wrote about the highly controversial logo several times. To recap:

City Council (who comprised of Lenny Zaprowski, Cori Davenport, Bob Gray & Steve Broadbent) & Mayor Bodker approved of the new $80,000 logo, quickly after unveiling it.

NO PUBLIC COMMENT was allowed or solicited.

City of Johns Creek’s logo is similar to Beds Online. A quick google search discovered this.

Nearly identical logos are for sale for a few hundred dollars on the web.

Had the City Council and Mayor allowed public participation and feedback, they could have learned this before wasting tax dollars, and discharging the consultants!

This matter was handled completely opposite in Alpharetta. They unveiled their new logo about the same time and had 2 weeks of public comment before approving. Residents there had heaps of praise for the timeless logo, that will be used for the next 100 years.

Sources: City of Johns Creek, Beds Online, City of Alpharetta

City Council LOSES Lawsuit

Whomp, whomp, the City continues to waste money on consultants and lawyers regarding Tech Park.

Despite the City’s grand plans to redevelop the private property, the landowners had a different vision for TPA land, sued the City and won.

Click here to read about the zoning hearing and subsequent lawsuit.

Here is the Final order & judgment.

City Council is expected to vote on it Monday night.

Intelligent Traffic Lights: Not as Advertised

Wow! After attending Council meetings for 3.5 years, City Council has FINALLY decided to discuss the Traffic Lights (thanks to Councilwoman Stephanie Endres) and staff has dedicated a WHOPPING 15 mins for Monday’s Work Session meeting.

There is a myriad of 5 programs all working with and against each other. No wonder there is so much traffic dysfunction within the City.

Of the 75 traffic lights within the City, ONLY 14 are on the intelligent traffic system!

Just 3 lights are listed as Full Adaptive, and 11 are listed as Adaptive. Less than 19% are under some level of Adaptive control by the ITS system.

An astonishing 40 lights are on a timed system, called “Time of Day”. These traffic lights are preprogrammed on general traffic patterns.

The light on McGinnis Ferry rd & Jones Bridge Rd has this timed system. Identified as one of the worst intersections on that main road, it is SHOCKING & disappointing this traffic light hasn’t been upgraded.

Currently, Forsyth County is on track to spend $30million to widen the road to the dismay of the local residents, and yet, no one from Johns Creek or Forsyth thought to improve the intersection for $30k first, to see if that provides the needed relief.

18 Lights are on another lighting program called “Traffic Responsive” with timing patterns based on traffic conditions.

Without some form of coordination between the different light management systems, chances are that the overall traffic management effort will be overcome by congestion or timing that cannot be adjusted in alignment with other changes made in the attempt to relieve traffic backups.
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Couple this with the quick light cycles at the major intersections, it is hard to get cars moving efficiently through the intersections, let alone the City.
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Source: City of Johns Creek

HUD Projects in Johns Creek: Deemed INELIGIBLE

In an interesting turn of events since Cityhood, Fulton County has enacted strict policies regarding spending and has deemed Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) money the City of Johns Creek sought to spend on proposed projects are ineligible.

City staff spent many hours working on “ADA accessible fishing pier” for Shakerag park. The project included a wooden 30-foot-by-20-foot fishing dock and a 30-foot-by-40-foot wildlife observation deck at the lake.

Historically, HUD money grants are for “blighted” areas, not for mismanagement by the wealthiest City in Georgia. Fulton County saw the logic there, and “now requires income surveys to prove that those benefiting from a project are below the income thresholds”.

City Staff is recommending the HUD money be spent on “housing rehabilitation program in which homeowners apply for projects (typically in the $1,000 – $15,000 range such as replacement of a roof or HVAC system).” After the income eligibility is verified, a grant is provided.

Mayor Bodker has been the biggest advocate for the Federal HUD dollars.

Councilwoman Stephanie Endres and Councilman Chris Coughlin both have campaigned against the City taking HUD dollars, in an effort to cut any strings attached or unknown compliance requirements.

There has been much controversy nationally over the HUD money and the strings attached, forcing urbanization and a regulatory nightmare for local governments. President Trump is considering canceling the program to save the federal government $6Billion annually, this would not be retroactive and impact the funds the City has already earmarked.

We previously wrote about HUD in our series, “Social Engineering and Federal Overreach Coming to Johns Creek?” Read them here:

Part 1Part 2Part 3

What are your thoughts on the City seeking, advocating, and spending HUD money?

Source: City of Johns Creek

Ossoff WINS Big in Johns Creek

The GA6 race the nation was watching, had an eventful turn within the Creek.

What use to be solid Republican, has changed to lean more Democratic.

Below are the numbers of votes the top candidates got within Johns Creek.

Jon Ossoff: 9,034

Karen Handel: 3,480

Bob Gray: 3,153

Dan Moody: 2,057

Ossoff got more votes than the 3 candidates below him combined, 8,690.

Of interest is former Councilman Bob Gray. He littered the City with his yard signs for FOUR Months and had fewer voters from Johns Creek then expected. He received slightly more votes (3,153) than his 2014 City Council election (2,905), even though record turnout.

The only voting precincts Bob Gray won, were those that covered Country Club of South, where he resides. Jon Ossoff won the rest of the precincts handily. Karen Handel came in second for many of the precincts, earning her the coveted second place.

Source: Fulton County Elections

Chris Coughlin LANDSLIDES into VICTORY

Chris Coughlin easily defeated John Flores, 2 to 1.

We will post the final numbers in the comments when they come in.

Congrats Mr. Coughlin, on your RESOUNDING Victory!

 

Urgent Update: Polling Locations CHANGED!

We are getting reports from Residents that 2 Polling Locations that have changed. Another location had a machine outage.

1- Medlock Bridge Elementary School polling location has moved to Wilson Creek elementary School.

2- My Pisgah Church Polling moved to Prince of Peace Lutheran church on Haynes bridge Rd.

3- Johns Creek Environmental Center (Jc19 ) will be open til 7:55 pm, 55 mins later after 7 pm, due to machine outage early this morning.

4- Centennial H.S. will be open till 7:35pm.

Find Your Polling Location HERE!

 

Click here to find your Polling Location. (Type in your address)