The property assessment process still may have some problems despite the Fulton County Board of Commissioners contributing additional funds to the boards in charge.
Commissioner Lee Morris, who represents Buckhead and Sandy Springs, said the problems with property tax assessment process have been “frustrating” for the Board of Commissioners. Property assessments were sent out later than planned, and concerns remain over their accuracy, he said.
Fulton’s property tax system has long been a target of complaints, but the latest round of public outrage came in 2017 when many residents received sharply increased appraisals after years of not keeping up with market values.
Since then, the commissioners have given additional funding and resources to the Board of Equalization and the Board of Assessors, who control the property assessment process and review appeals to help the process move more smoothly and accurately, Morris said.
“We have very little power over the boards, but we’ve certainly funded them adequately,” Morris said.
The property assessments were planned to be sent out by April 19, but they weren’t actually sent until June 18, Morris said. The county continues to have problems with the software vendor used to generate the notices, he said.
“We clearly didn’t make that deadline, and that’s frustrating,” he said. “Time will tell about accuracy.”
Commissioner Bob Ellis, who represents part of Sandy Springs, said he was concerned missing the date to mail the assessments would “push back tax and financial planning for our cities and school systems.”
“We are already a month past where we told them we would be,” Ellis said.
Ellis is also concerned about the accuracy of exemptions, saying they may not have all the exemptions passed by voters in 2018.
One exempts residents from paying taxes to Atlanta Public Schools on $50,000 of their property value, but the first $10,000 would remain taxable. The current exemption is $30,000.
Another created a new homestead exemption that caps annual property tax increases at 2.6% for the city of Atlanta portion of the tax bill.
A new Fulton County homestead exemption applies to seniors 65 and older and provides a $50,000 exemption from property taxes. Another in Fulton caps increases in property assessments at 3% annually for the Fulton County School District portion of the tax bill.
The Board of Equalization, which is made up of trained citizens who are selected and agree to serve, review appeals and homestead exemptions.
Morris said many times “poorer people are more inclined” to take on the position, and they can have a “resentment for people live in the wealthy neighborhoods.”
“We continue to hear from people that they haven’t been treated fairly,” Morris said.
The appeals process becomes a “toss up” on whether a citizen will win, he said.
To help that, the board has given extra funding to appeals staff to resolve appeals with property owners without the Board of Equalization, Morris said.
The deadline to file appeals is Aug. 2. The homestead exemption filing deadline for this year has already passed. For more information, visit fultonassessor.org.