In a letter emailed to Fulton County Schools families earlier on Tuesday, superintendent Jeff Rose acknowledged a “temporary but dramatic financial shortfall.” The cause, according to Rose, was the Fulton County property tax dispute which saw Fulton County homeowners’ tax assessments increase in the double digits; some as much as 50 percent, in the summer.

“Earlier this summer, the Fulton County Commission decided to freeze a portion of the tax digest for reassessed residential properties at 2016 levels,” he wrote. “Because of the initial delay caused by the decision of the Fulton County Commission, the Fulton County Tax Assessor had to recalculate property assessments, and property notices had to be resent, delaying the typical process by more than two months. This means that FCS is not receiving the expected revenue to fund our budget fully.”

Solutions being weighed include a hiring and spending freeze and a court petition asking a judge to order the Fulton Tax Commissioner to send tax bills.  

It is important to reiterate that this situation is the direct result of decisions by Fulton County Board of Commissioners.”

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Parents,

We know it is important to keep you informed about issues that affect your child’s education. Our school system finds itself in a temporary but dramatic financial shortfall through no fault of our own.

THE PROBLEM: Earlier this summer, the Fulton County Commission decided to freeze a portion of the tax digest for reassessed residential properties at 2016 levels. Because of the initial delay caused by the decision of the Fulton County Commission, the Fulton County Tax Assessor had to recalculate property assessments, and property notices had to be resent, delaying the typical process by more than two months.  This means that FCS is not receiving the expected revenue to fund our budget fully.

We did not know the extent of the delay in revenue until last week when the Georgia Department of Revenue did not approve Fulton County’s tax bills.  We immediately worked to join Fulton County Government and Atlanta Public Schools in seeking legal relief to this situation through a Tax Collection Order (TCO). A judge will review the matter on Friday

THE PRIORITY: When times are tough, we must prioritize. For the remainder of this calendar year, due to the financial constraint we have been put in, our focus will be:

  • The daily safety and security of our students
  • To do everything we can to honor our current employees with the compensation they earned

THE PLAN: Our plan of action also includes necessary belt-tightening and cost-saving measures we will all take immediate action to improve our financial picture through January.  They are as follows:

  • Move December 20 payroll to December 29, 2017
  • Freeze hiring district-wide
  • Freeze spending, except items related to safety and security, federal compliance, and fuel and utilities
  • Place moratorium on out-of-system travel, including conferences for staff
  • Implement a process to review student field trips to limit district costs

Finally, we have filed a court petition asking a judge to order the Fulton Tax Commissioner to send tax bills.  It is important to reiterate that this situation is the direct result of decisions by Fulton County Board of Commissioners.

Thank you for understanding the current dilemma we face. As we receive information, we will continue to keep you updated. 

Sincerely,

Jeff Rose, Ed.D.

Superintendent

 

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