By John Schaffner
Atlanta city budget discussions are on a fast track in order to have a balanced 2008-2009 fiscal year budget in place by the end of June in compliance with state law.
In the meantime, at least three major developments have impacted those discussions:
–On May 31, the updated Fulton County 2008 tax digest was distributed and indicated that a combination of increased growth and tax reassessments will allow the city to plan a smaller property tax increase to close the estimated budget shortfall of $40 million.
The city administration now figures it will only require a .43 mill increase in property taxes to close the anticipated budget gap, instead of the 1.7 mill increase previously forecast. The new anticipated millage rate would increase taxes on a $300,000 house by $41.71.
–The city’s chief financial officer, Janice Davis, announced her resignation after almost four years in the job. She will leave the post July 9, after budget negotiations are completed, to assume a new position in her home state of Texas.
–The Atlanta City Council voted June 2 to override two vetoes by Mayor Shirley, including one calling for a major audit of the budget practices.
Dist. 7 City Councilman Howard Shook, who heads up the city Finance/Administration Committee, said one impact that may not be understood by the time the budget is finalized is the true impact of the Fulton 2008 tax digest on closing the $40 million gap.
The reason, Shook explained, is that much of the increased property taxes are on commercial properties and it is anticipated many of those will be appealed. The appeals will likely not be determined in time for the city to know the true impact of that tax revenue on the budget.