Monday, December 28, 2015

State: tax rates in new cities can’t be capped

Georgia General Assembly legislative counsel Jeff Lanier says that property tax millage rates cannot be capped when new cities such as Brookhaven and Tucker are created. City officials retain the authority to increase tax rates even if a cap was written into the legislation or charter that created them. This news comes from the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
Cities have the power to raise property taxes and expand services, even when their charters attempt to impose limitations, according to legal opinions prepared for Georgia senators.
The opinions, cited in this week’s final report of a Senate task force on cityhood, said the Georgia Constitution gives city councils control over local taxes and service levels. Referendums seeking voter approval aren’t required before city councils take action, the opinions say.
Cities can use their “home rule” authority to remove millage rate caps, according to a legal opinion by Deputy Legislative Counsel Jeff Lanier. Millage caps were included in the legislation that created the cities of Brookhaven, Tucker and others... 

This legal opinion may put cold water on cityhood efforts because supporters can no longer guarantee a maximum tax rate.

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