What Are My Property Taxes Paying For?

The Fulton County Board of Commissioners rejected raising the county property tax millage from 10.281 to 10.791 (a .51 increase or 5%) on Wednesday and instead opted keep millage constant. The decision came despite declining tax digest values, caused by increased homestead exemptions and declining property values. The change could have raised $17 million for the County General Fund, according to the Fulton County Government. Property tax revenues account for around 80% of General Fund Revenue in Fulton.

The county expects the tax digest value, which is the sum of all the assessed values, after exemptions, of properties to be taxed within Fulton, to decrease by 15.3% since 2008. Despite a 13% decrease in actual expenditures by Fulton since 2007, the county is still struggling to make up the budget shortfall. Increased use of government services since the recession and high unemployment has further strained the county’s budget. The county has not raised its millage since 1991.

So how much has Fulton been collecting in property taxes over the past few years? In 2011, Fulton raised $385,007,772 from property tax compared to $506,211,925 in 2010. In 2006 Fulton raised $449,656,422 in property taxes. These taxes all go to the General Fund, which pays for things like courts, police, Grady Hospital and other public services.

The Fulton County Board of Education recently decided to keep their millage rate the same, at 18.502. This is expected to raise $487.24 million in 2013. In 2011 they raised $540.89 million in property taxes, in 2010 they raised $542.28 million and in 2009, they raised $513.27 million. These taxes go toward the Fulton County Board of Education’s General Fund. Metro Atlanta schools are under an independent school system.

Gwinnett, Cobb and DeKalb have all raised their county property tax millage in the past few years. Gwinnett raised their millage 21% two years ago, and then scaled it back slightly to 11.78. Cobb raised it almost 16% to 7.72, and DeKalb raised it by 26% to 9.43. Additionally, DeKalb’s Board of Education raised its millage by 1, to 24 mills. DeKalb also cut 400 education jobs, in anticipation of an $85 million budget shortfall.

Additional Resources

Fulton County Fiscal Outlook & Millage Rate Recommendations 2012: http://www.fultoncountyga.gov/images/stories/Budget_Update_Presentation_-_FINAL.pdf

Fulton County 2011 Final Budget: http://www.fultoncountyga.gov/images/stories/communications/FY2011_Final_Adopted_Budget_for_Website.pdf

Fulton County Board of Education 2013 Budget: http://portal.fultonschools.org/departments/Financial_Services/Budget_Services/Documents/FY13%20Budget%20Markup%20%20Presentation.pdf


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