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November elections will be consequential for Atlanta, Fulton residents. Here’s why

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Some homeowners could see tax breaks in the future, but at what cost?

A picture of voting stickers
Don’t forget to vote, y’all!
AFP/Getty Images, TAMI CHAPPELL / Stringer

Non-politicos and pundits of Fulton County might be surprised to know how much is on the line in two weeks, as you’ll find far more on this election season’s ballot than a question of who should be Georgia’s next governor.

Especially for anyone living in the core of metro Atlanta. And those who fancy a pre-noon Bloody Mary.

For starters, November 6 could bring about changes to local tax laws, which could give breaks to long-planted homeowners but adversely impact renters, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

For years, Fulton County has improperly valued homes during property assessments, but certain measures on the ballot, if approved next month, could compensate for the problem.

Because Atlanta is part of multiple counties—Fulton and DeKalb—all Georgia voters will be able to weigh in on a measure that limits the property value increases for owner-occupied homes.

If the measure passes, the newspaper reports, annual property value increases would be capped at 2.6 percent. Plus homeowners can use the lowest assessed value from the past three years when paying their taxes—in addition to an extra 4.23 percent to account for inflation.

And while the legislation’s author, Atlanta’s Republican state Rep. Beth Beskin, argues that it could help some people from being priced out of fast-growing areas, others say renters would have to bear the burden.

Georgia State University Urban Studies Professor Dan Immergluck told the AJC the proposal is “extremely inequitable,” adding, “It’s going to benefit people in bigger houses in appreciating places,” he said.

School taxes

Another proposal that would impact Atlantans would allow some homeowners to pay less in school taxes, while some residents—those with lesser-valued homes—would have to start paying school taxes.

The ongoing, $50 million reconstruction project at David T. Howard High School in Old Fourth Ward.
Sean Keenan, Curbed Atlanta

Currently, Atlanta school district residents don’t have to pay taxes on $30,000 of their home’s assessed value.

If the measure is approved, however, homeowners would have to pay school taxes for the first $10,000 of assessed value, meaning thousands of homeowners would have to start paying a new tax, according to the AJC.

The measure would also bump the tax exemption up from $30,000 to $50,000, which would mean some homeowners with higher-value homes would see their tax bill go down.

Granted, the measure would only stay in effect for three years. But it could also deal quite a blow to the Atlanta Public Schools system’s tax funding, according to the publication.

APS could miss out on upwards of $20 million in potential tax revenue, the AJC estimates. However, because the tax digest is expected to increase, APS could still see property tax revenue boosted.

Similar measures will be on the ballot for residents in the Fulton County Schools district, as well as Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton, Mountain Park, and Roswell.

Brunch booze

Call it the “brunch bill” or the “mimosa mandate,” but residents across Fulton County, including Atlanta, will be able to vote in November on whether Sunday alcohol sales should be bumped up to 11 a.m. at restaurants.

In August, the Atlanta City Council voted 14-0 to allow the “brunch bill” referendum to be placed on ballots in two weeks, as Eater Atlanta reported.

As of now—as if brunch-crazy Atlantans haven’t noticed—restaurants must wait until 12:30 p.m. to start dishing the bubbles and bloodies on the Sabbath.

Other cities in Fulton County that will have a brunch bill say include Alpharetta, College Park, Hapeville, Roswell, Sandy Springs, and Union City, among others.

Outdoors preservation

City-dwellers who savor every chance to explore Georgia’s wondrous great outdoors could be particularly interested in one of five amendments on upcoming ballots statewide.

The first constitutional amendment listed, called the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Amendment, will ask Georgians if a portion of revenue collected from outdoor recreation equipment sales should be channeled toward land conservation.

A coalition of backers calls the amendment “a historic opportunity for Georgians to protect the state’s lands, water, and wildlife” that would “constitutionally dedicate up to 80 percent of the existing state sales and use tax on sporting goods without raising or creating any new taxes or fees.”

Agencies who’ve vocally supported the measure include The Conservation Fund, Georgia Conservancy, Georgia Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, Park Pride, and The Trust for Public Land.

It could produce about $20 million annually over the next decade for Georgia conservation efforts, supporters say.