Your turn on Atlanta’s property-tax increase

What do you think?

The Atlanta City Council raised property taxes today to close a $56 million budget gap and end furloughs of city employees, AJC staffer Eric Sturgis reports.

For the average city homeowner, the increase amounts to $250 on a $240,000 home, officials said.

Is this the right move or should city officials have cut spending?

The City Council’s 8-7 vote in favor of the property-tax increase broke down like this:

Yes: Carla Smith, Ivory Lee Young, Natalyn Mosby Archibong, Anne Fauver, Felicia Moore, C.T. Martin, Joyce Sheperd, Ceasar Mitchell.

No: Kwanza Hall, Cleta Winslow, Howard Shook, Clair Muller, Jim Maddox, Mary Norwood, H. Lamar Willis.

106 comments Add your comment

Kirsten

June 29th, 2009
10:59 am

Atlanta/Fulton County already has the highest tax rate in metro Atlanta and is one of the most poorly run counties….hopefully a new mayor will help this city move get its act together!

Angus

June 29th, 2009
11:02 am

Anyone know how the vote went down? (Who voted for it and who didn’t.)

AH

June 29th, 2009
11:04 am

Shame on them, shame on us.

The actual tax increase wasn’t really the issue, what was the real issue was and is Trust.
The council doesn’t trust the numbers the Mayor’s office is providing and we don’t trust the council members to do a good job with our money.
I feel like they are just shoveling more money into a bottomless pit without knowing why and we aren’t stopping them.

Own Atlanta Property

June 29th, 2009
11:05 am

Well Shirley got her way, she has been trying for years to raise Atlanta property taxes. I guess no one seems to want to tax those who live in Atlanta but don’t own property. Thats a bunch of people so why are homeowners getting singled out? If we have to raise taxes it should tax everyone not just a certain group who have seen our tax commissioner Arthur Ferdinand scam the property owners for years. Shirely tripled our water bills, Arhur gave over the top assessments and denied all appeals even if you had property appraisal. This group of people should be thrown out of office.

Lynn Taylor

June 29th, 2009
11:07 am

I think that Mayor Shirley Franklin and Richard Pennington should cut their salaries in half first.

ugacpa02

June 29th, 2009
11:07 am

Shirley Franklin is getting her revenge on the decent, hardworking property owners of Fulton county to redistribute the wealth to everyone else. Congrats to her for being so good at being a maniuplative, lying, scheming politician.

It also would not surprise me if the appraisal process was as crooked as described in the previous post.

David

June 29th, 2009
11:08 am

Less (or poorly administered) services = more taxes; it’s inexcusable. City workers are rude/not helpful, water issues continue and Police struggle to maintain order, crime is up, services down. Why pay more when the current Administration has failed to demonstrate they can manage it efficiently? Change is coming and I say “vote them out”!

Jodi

June 29th, 2009
11:08 am

Pretty Pissed…I believe they could have found other ways than to keep hitting us in the pocket. I for one don’t have the extra money for all these increases..but then the value is going downhill.

@ Angus

Voting for the tax hike were council members Carla Smith, Ivory Young, Natalyn Archibong, Anne Fauver, Felicia Moore, C.T. Martin, Joyce Sheperd, and Ceasar Mitchell.

Voting against the tax hike were council members Cleta Winslow, Howard Shook, Claire Muller, Jim Maddox, Mary Norwood, H. Lamar Willis, and Kwanza Hall.

Mayor

June 29th, 2009
11:08 am

Maybe if the mayor cut out here huge amount of trips to Europe and everywhere else, her daily flowers, plus the limo she gets ridden around in this would help pay hard working firemen.

ugacpa02

June 29th, 2009
11:10 am

And what happened to quality journalism at the AJC. Given that your distribution radius is now approximately the city limits of Atlanta, you would think this story deserved more than a few lines of basic facts. What about interviewing someone? Did anyone consider actually analyzing what our tax dollars are being spent to provide? Perhaps even exposing some of the serious wastes of our money that should have been cut instead of funded?

CJ

June 29th, 2009
11:11 am

Stuff doesn’t pay for itself. The money has to come from somewhere. Since people don’t want “socialism”, the government operating a for-profit business, then the alternative is to tax the people.

BTW – calling for the mayor of a city of this size to cut her salary is ridiculous. Any CEO with as much responsibility would make as much, if not more, and a bonus.

Rick

June 29th, 2009
11:12 am

I don’t like tax increases, but, if this ends the police furloughs, then that is great. Crime in the city is getting out of control…and we need more cops on the street.

Pudge

June 29th, 2009
11:13 am

Just another government entity that cannot operate within its means. Government employees are the least efficient workers and need to be held accoutnable for their poor performances.

ATL

June 29th, 2009
11:14 am

Somebody tell me what has Shirley Franklin Done….
Nothing but add more taxes, I hope a new mayor come in who can really manage the city money. All I see IS That Shirley Franklin has is taken care the streets and the people on Cascade, Poor MLK DR,SIMPSON AND BANKHEAD, WILL THE TAX HIKE HELP DEVELOPE THESE AREAS, I HOPE SO BECAUSE THEY REALLY LOOK BAD.

atlin83

June 29th, 2009
11:15 am

If you’re referring to renters like me, Own Atlanta Property, we still pay the tax, only more indirectly. Someone owns the building renters live in, and when they get hit with the property tax increase, they will likely adjust the rent. So don’t feel like homeowners/property owners are all alone in this, because when my rent goes up and this is cited as a reason, I’m getting hit by it too. Nobody gets singled out; everyone who lives in the city will get hit by this.

Another novel concept: renters also get hit by water increases. Many renters pay water bills directly to the city. Others pay for it through the rent. Just like with property taxes, when water rates go up, so does the rent.

There may be those situations where landlords decide to cover the costs themselves rather than increase the rent, but the City’s not forcing anyone to do that – we have weak renter protections here. Those landlords make that decision of their own accord and could increase rents should they want to. Either way, the money gets paid to the city. Property owners who think they’re getting fleeced by the City while Atlanta’s renting population sits idly by with no impact are delusional.

We need a new Mayor

June 29th, 2009
11:17 am

The reason we have to raise taxes is due to poor management by the mayor. The city auditors blasted her for a terrible job which caused millions of waste. When the economy goes south the cities with bad management are the first appear on the radar screen. Many cities across the country are fiscally responsible even those within our state. One south of Atlanta is run so well they haven’t increased property taxes in 25 years. Bill Campell now Shirely Franklin…please vote for the best candidate this time who can run a business not putting us into a deficit.

David

June 29th, 2009
11:18 am

@ CJ for the “ridiculous” comment.. That’s assuming she actually works “FOR” the property owners and citizens of this City, not her own political interests; I’m not convinced she actually does. All I have seen is waste/mis-management and fighting with the City Council. I think most who reads this paper or pays property taxes in this City would tend to agree.

chiu

June 29th, 2009
11:18 am

does California’s state budget mess remind anyone that politician can’t control budget? WE got to vote them out before it’s too late.

Sandi

June 29th, 2009
11:19 am

Thank goodness Atlanta will not continue to have its police and firefighters (some of metro Atlanta’s most poorly paid civil servants) function in dangerous, short-staffed, under-budgeted circumstances. Hopefully, future administrations will budget better so that these brave women and men can be better paid and be treated with more dignity and respect in the future, as they deserve to be treated.

atlin83 response

June 29th, 2009
11:21 am

you try raising rental rates right now… so many landlords are hurting because they cant refinance due to values have decreased and so many properties are on the market for renting. People cant sell their house for what they paid so they rent it. Plus the financial incentive to buy right now is lessening the renters. The tax increase will have to be absord by the property owners and will cause additional foreclosures.

IrishForEver

June 29th, 2009
11:22 am

Taxpayers should stop expecting budgets to be balanced on the backs of government employees. The same thing happened to the teachers.

RT

June 29th, 2009
11:28 am

Dump every DIME into more police on the street and I’m all for it. But, let’s hold them accountable. No more manipulating the crime numbers. I don’t care if total numbers are up or down. I pay lots of tax, and doors get kicked in on my street. Lock those kids that are doing it up or I vote for someone else! Period!!!!

Love Atlanta

June 29th, 2009
11:30 am

My recommendation is Mayor Shirley go work for the Iranian government. She could ruin that country like see has done to our city.

The council, firemen, and policecan’t stand her, incresed property taxes and water, city services at the lowest quality, highest crime in the 20 years I have lived here. The travel community just voted Atlanta one of the worst places to visit and previously was decently ranked. All these happenen under Shirley’s rein.

Midtowner

June 29th, 2009
11:30 am

Anyone who has closely followed City politics know that the problem w/retention and hiring at APD/AFD does not have to do with the money allocated but how they’re treated (from pension to overtime to disability support to etc etc etc).
Shirley’s wanted a tax hike for some time w/o fixing the systemic problems she’s created w/APD, and w/all the money rest assured the end result will NOT be a fully staffed, stable APD force. When she couldn’t get her tax hike the rumors started about laying off cops, she let that swirl about for a bit, then started her move. Not until she, Pennington, and the City Machine’s crew (look at who voted for the tax hike) are all voted out of office will there be any chance of proper fiscally responsible governance – read Stephanie Ramage’s articles on how the City uses APD as an ATM…
For all the budget cutting, word is alot of her political patronage jobs such as in the Events Dept were not touched, she only cut 3 admin staff folks out of her entire office, meanwhile her Chief of Staff Greg Giornelli stood up at a SE Business Assoc. meeting about 2 yrs ago, when pushing the Beltline, and said “property taxes will never go down.” He’s still kept his job, while APD and AFD took huge tax cuts.
Pattern and practice, pattern and practice.
Look at all the City Council races. The City Machine, for the first time that I can really remember, has almost 2-3 folks beholden to it in every Council seat race.
They cannot afford the cold light of day on how they’ve run the show.

Michelle

June 29th, 2009
11:33 am

I’m not surprised i don’t even know why citizens waste their time complaining…you would think even the council members would say something about the tax increase. Their not “ballers” and i’m sure don’t want it to go up no more than we do..But it is what is it and OUR GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL! :)

doug

June 29th, 2009
11:35 am

PLEASE PLEASE VOTE FOR THE BEST CANDIDATE. DON’T VOTE BASED ON RACE OR ANYTHING ELSE. DON’T VOTE FOR SOME TWIT WHO RAISED OUR TAXES AND THEN WE ALL GET NOTHING IN RETURN. WATER BILLS ARE UP, WE GET RUDE SERVICE. PROPERTY TAX UP, WE GET POOR SERVICE AND BAD APPRAISALS. PLEASE, PEOPLE, VOTE OUT THOSE WHO RAISED OUR TAXES AND THEN GIVE US NOTHING.

david

June 29th, 2009
11:36 am

Say it loud and say it proud i am an african american and i voted my self a tax increase! You got what you voted for.

MattAtlanta

June 29th, 2009
11:37 am

It is with much anger, and holding my nose, that I reluctanly support this tax increase. Crime is rampant- and we need every available cop on the street to beat these thugs and thieves back.

However, what makes me so ANGRY is the leadership and mismanagement that got this city in the mess it’s in !

Department heads need to go across the board…

Let’s NOT let this happen to us again ! Fiscal responibility and good city management MUST be a theme for the upcoming mayoral race.

donald

June 29th, 2009
11:42 am

Why doesn’t the AJC publish the list of who voted yes and no ?

Akilah

June 29th, 2009
11:42 am

This is ridiculous! I got a notice of valuation over the weekend that shows that the value of my property has gone down by 40% for 2009. There has to be a better alternative than raising taxes when the values are down and everything is is up!

Michelle

June 29th, 2009
11:45 am

AMEN – Doug :)

Michelle

June 29th, 2009
11:47 am

THE TAX ASSESSOR’S OFFICE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR SENDING OUT NOTICES OF ASSESSEMENT INCREASE/DECREASE 404.612.6440

W

June 29th, 2009
11:49 am

Don’t be a coward Clark Howard.. Your city needs your leadership desperately. And you know it. Step up to the plate and accept some civic responsibility to your new hometown. Thanks for what you have done for consumers and yourself, but if your healthy enough we need visionaries in the worst way.. Help Help Help

Polly Harper

June 29th, 2009
11:49 am

I think that all government budgets and spending should come under the same guidelines as private and public companies … manage with what you have in your pocket book but don’t keep asking everyone else to pay for ineffective use of the money in your budget.

KennesawDave

June 29th, 2009
11:50 am

Why am I not surprised. Way to go Atlanta, not only have you caused my parents to pay more in taxes but you’ve just inspired people who might have considered living in the city to look elsewhere to purchase property or live. As far as ending furloughs. Here’s a thought; Stop funding programs that don’t spur enconomic growth in the city limits. I’m not even an economist and even I know that’s a way to save money.

J R

June 29th, 2009
11:52 am

This increase was expected. Atlanta government officials allude an incompetency in fiscal financial responsibility and accountibility. My community annexed itself to Atlanta in 2006. In hindsight, many have regreted it ever since. How can you request more money to manage affairs, when you are not certain how the money is being spent. In a word it is an insult to Atlanta citizens that this action has to be tolerated. More as in more police, more firemen, and the like is not always better, especially when officals are not accountable and responsible with what exists presently.

Gimmy

June 29th, 2009
11:55 am

It’s called squishing a balloon. Lower my assessment but raise my millage. People of ATL were not aware that this was the master plan. Other place play with their millage all of the time. Bottom line is you are going to be paying just as much in property taxes or more (if you did not receive a lower assessment) to fund the City’s completely inept administration. “Oops, did I say we had a surplus of $250M, I meant we’re in the hole $50M…my bad.” Nice CFO. I think her excuse was that her office was understaffed. Yeah, try that in private industry. Get the names of the chickens that voted for this and make sure they don’t get re-elected.

Jack

June 29th, 2009
11:56 am

OK, how come Fulton County is so well run and the City is a mess. Water/Sewer rates were raised through the roof, taxes raised now again, and half the city has hired private security or off duty cops at an extra cost. The city is miss managed and the Mayor NEVER focused on building a strong finance department cause she was always travelling and not paying attention to basics. How come Fulton County has the best finance department in the state with stability and Atlanta is a polar opposite? Franklin blames the economy, well 85% of the city is in Fulton County and it is is much better shape – explain this Shirley???

David

June 29th, 2009
12:00 pm

Please consider the wise words from the Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation (www.fctf.org) They’ve been fighing this nonsense and should be supported. Below is a copy from their campaign to get SF to consider alternates to raising taxes. Sounds pretty smart if you ask me; guess she didn’t listen as ususal.

“There is no need to raise property taxes and hold Taxpayers responsible when managed competition in just 5 areas could save $200 million annually!

- Fleet Services & Management, budgeted for 2009 at $29,787,032-if outsourced would save up to 38%! 1# PRIORITY!!!
- Solid Waste Collection, budgeted for 2009 at $42,240,000-if outsourced would save up to 60%!
- Parks and Recreation budgeted for 2009 at $32,571,509-if outsourced would save up to 40%!
- Airport Operations and Management budgeted for 2009 at $336,000,000-if outsourced would save up to 40%!
- Water and Wastewater together budgeted for 2009 at $439,139,692-if outsourced would save up to 25%!

For too long Atlantans have been burdened with the mis-management of our City. We should not have to pay for mistakes made at City Hall!”

Jeff

June 29th, 2009
12:02 pm

Amen W!!!! Clark Howard for Mayor!!!!!!

Nepotism and Greed

June 29th, 2009
12:03 pm

I think we should audit the city and see where all the money from the post olympic boom has gone. I’m positive the money will be found lining the pockets of the friends and family of the mayor and city council.

Cut back social programs, control bidding for projects and get Shirley Franklin the hell out of office.

david

June 29th, 2009
12:07 pm

People of Atlanta you are crying and sad that MJ Passed.You want to build memorials and do all kind of things for him and the city is following him to his grave. You need to wake up and see what is going on around you.Stop voting for some one based purely on race! PS…Fulton county is not any better than the city.

Tina

June 29th, 2009
12:09 pm

Shame on Carla Smith, Joyce Sheperd, and Ivory Young considering the districts (poor or very working class) they represent. (or are supposed to represent)Foreclosures are rampant in Carla’s and Ivory’s district which has some of the highest foreclosures rates in the city. Shame on them! They should all be defeated for re-election and pay withheld. Clearly good judgement is not black or white!

joe

June 29th, 2009
12:13 pm

Where’s my for sale sign. I’m tired of the good ole boy network at City Hall. Screw y’all & I’m f’in outta here. I’m not going to pay for your friends & families to have jobs.

Jodi

June 29th, 2009
12:17 pm

@DONALD I posted the list…go back up to 11:08am

Q

June 29th, 2009
12:17 pm

Thanks city council for returning this city back to wasteful spending and unnecessary overhead at the homeowners expense. I can see raising taxes for more police officers & firefighters, but not for people to sit up in city hall and shuffle paper all day.

Julian Bene

June 29th, 2009
12:19 pm

Atlanta had very rapid growth in property values and retail sales between 2002 and 2008 – but the city’s tax revenues stagnated. Why will neither the media nor the pols address this?
Millage rollbacks explain only part of it. Council repeatedly voted for tax allocation districts that drain tax away from funding basic services. The Atlanta Development Authority also gave property tax abatements to favored high-rise developers, but don’t tell us how much this has cost the city. And huge amounts of property tax go uncollected – $30mm in 2007 alone – with developers like Notrica running up 6-figure nonpayments on a single property. Where the sales taxes went remains a mystery. Until we have media focus and leadership that gets serious on revenues, the ordinary taxpayer can look forward to more and more tax increases.

Only truth please

June 29th, 2009
12:23 pm

I see a lot of desks being cleaned out come November, thats what I see. Time for real change. Not for their change, but for real change. Time for Americans to take back their country and get rid of Taxation without Representation.

Robbing the people

June 29th, 2009
12:25 pm

It’s an absolute disgrace we’ve raised our taxes in this city. Under the guise of ending furloughs with our much needed fire and police protection, here we are taxing homeowners even more. How did we get here? Why weren’t any monies diverted from any social welfare coffers? Hmmm, one only needs to look at the 50 cents of every dollar spent in Atlanta is a hand-out or subsidy of some sort to the poor. There have been virtually no changes in these budgets or cost structures, but we CAN afford to cut fire and police. Now, we the people get shafted with a tax increase since our socialist mayor kept the social gravy flowing to the poor and cut off tax payer protections – that’s real change folks…damned disgrace!!

Former Resident

June 29th, 2009
12:25 pm

After following all the stories and reading the comments on here: Shirley Franklin and the council should give up their big pay and give it back to the city. Ms. Franklin has been ripping off the city since she came into office. She has taken away the jobs of the lowest paid city workers and filtered it back into her pockets and office. Supposedly all the layoffs were to help the city – where’s the money? Maybe when there is an emergency at her home or office the response time will be slow enough to show her what she has done to Atlanta.