Fulton County and its 15 cities are in a fight over tax revenue

·2 min read

Fulton County and its 15 cities are in a fight over how to split up Local Option Sales Tax revenue. The county’s expected to collect around $316 million a year over the next decade. The decision could impact every taxpayer in Fulton and raise property taxes for homeowners. Both sides met Friday to hear the city’s proposal and start the negotiation process.

The county made its proposal two weeks ago, asking for their current share to rise from just under 5% to 35% a year to pay for countywide services, including public health and safety, courts and renovating or building a new jail. That would increase the county’s tax revenue by around $90 million a year but leave the cities to split up the rest of the 65% — or about a third less than they receive now.

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“It would be either loss of services or an increase in taxes,” said Alpharetta Mayor Jim Gilvin. The city’s loss in revenue would total almost $6 million dollars a year. “That’s almost 10% of our general fund budget, so that’s probably one third of our police costs, and probably about half of what we spend on parks and recreation.” For Atlanta, the total would be more than $130 million a year.

Fulton County Chairman Robb Pitts said after their specially called board of commissioners meeting that he’s hoping they can work out a deal. “Discussions like this can be lively, spirited, but we take the highroad and I’m optimistic that the men and women in this room in the final analysis will reach an agreement.”

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The city of Johns Creek says to make up almost $8 million dollars in lost tax revenue it would have to raise property taxes on each homeowner by over a third to keep the same services. The millage rate would also have to climb above what’s legally allowed in the city’s own charter, a problem with three other cities, including East Point.

“We got more than enough time to come to an agreement,” said the mayor of Fairburn Mario Avery who went through the same negotiations a decade ago. “Because at the end of the day…it’s all about the taxpayer. No one comes out in good standing if this doesn’t work.” If no agreement is reached by December 30, the LOST will go away in 2023, and sales tax will decrease for anyone coming into Atlanta and Fulton County spending money. But neither side would get anything, and they won’t be able to collect the hundreds of millions of dollars each year to help offset property taxes.

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