by Commissioner Bob Ellis
At the June 20, 2018 Fulton County Board of Commissioners (BOC) meeting, BOC members voted 6-0 (with one member not voting), to affirm that it was the intent of the Board of Commissioners to set the millage rate at a level that was sufficient to only generate the revenue necessary to cover expenditures in the 2018 budget, which was previously approved in January.
During that meeting, many members of the Commission clearly expressed that the County would reap no tax windfall in excess of the funds needed for the 2018 budget. Our state-required published notification that announced to taxpayers our proposed millage rate included the following statement: “Legislation adopted by the Board of Commissioners also expresses its intention to set a millage rate calculated to generate only enough revenue sufficient to cover the 2018 Budget.”
Following the June 20th meeting when the Resolution was passed, three Public Meetings were scheduled to allow citizen feedback. The input received from our citizens during those meetings was based on our June 20th Resolution, and the County’s citizens were loud and clear: Reduce the 2018 millage to the lowest level possible to make up for the very significant increases in property tax assessments!
Fulton County’s Finance Department subsequently provided detailed information to the Commissioners that indicated a millage rate of between 9.77 and 9.98 — depending on an estimated tax collection rate between 94% and 96% (historical rates have been 96%+) — would sufficiently fund the County’s 2018 Budget.
At the next meeting of the BOC on August 1st, four members of the Board ignored the June 20th Resolution – and all of the citizen feedback and input – and voted 4-3 to approve a millage rate of 10.2 that overfunds the County’s 2018 Budget by 20 million of YOUR tax dollars. Chairman Pitts, along with Commissioners Hall, Arrington, and Darnell voted to ignore citizen feedback, disregard state law, and breach the trust of its own citizens. The three other members on the Board – Commissioners Hausmann, Morris, and Ellis — voted unanimously against this tax windfall.
If the millage rate of 10.2 approved by the Democrats at the August 1st BOC Meeting moves forward, it will represent an unlawful windfall of more than 20 million dollars of public money. The County should adopt a millage rate of between 9.77 and 9.98 – a rate necessary to adequately fund the 2018 Budget.
There is no justification for the August 1st vote. The County is in sound financial condition and does not require the additional funds generated by the higher millage rate. Assuming a lower millage rate that would be in accordance with the June 20th resolution, Fulton’s financial reserves are projected to be at 140 million dollars at the end of this year, an estimated 33 million dollars more than our reserve requirement. There is absolutely no need for taking additional money from taxpayers.
Last Friday, August 10th, I forwarded a letter to Fulton County Board of Commissioners’ Chairman Robb Pitts, calling on him to revoke this illegal and citizen harming vote that took place on August 1st, and I asked that a millage rate be adopted that comports with June 20th Resolution that was approved by the Board by a vote of 6 to 0. I am again calling on the Chairman to do the right thing for the taxpayers of Fulton County.
This entire episode is an embarrassment and a thumb in the eye to hard working Fulton County taxpayers. The members of the Board of Commissioners who voted to approve the excessive millage rate need to be held accountable and required to make good on what was communicated to the citizens in the June 20th Resolution.
I will continue to fight for the establishment of a proper and legal 2018 millage rate and to do all I can to protect the taxpayers of Fulton County.