FULTON COUNTY, Ga. - Leaders of Atlanta City Schools and Fulton County Schools will ask a judge to collect property taxes in hopes of avoiding employee furloughs and school closures.
The state denied Fulton County's tax digest after property tax rates were frozen at 2016 levels. That means the county can't collect taxes to fund schools and other services.
Former Fulton County Chairman John Eaves said he led the charge to freeze property tax bills at last year's levels because homeowners complained about increasing taxes. However, he said what he didn't anticipate at the time is that the Georgia Department of Revenue would reject the county's tax digest.
"To get a decision at the last minute, at the 11th hour from the state is just unacceptable," Eaves said. "I believe it reeks of politics. It's unnecessary."
Eaves worries a shortfall could cause major revenue trouble for schools and other public services.
The superintendent of Fulton County Schools said there's a chance some schools could close in 2018 in wake of the financial fallout.
"We have a cash flow problem," Dr. Jeff Rose said. "That well is running dry."
County leaders hope a judge will mandate a temporary collection order at the hearing Friday that will help keep schools open and buses running.
"If the judge does not render a favorable decision it will put two school systems, 15 cities, Fulton County government, and 18 community improvement districts who rely on taxpayer revenue, in a very, very adverse situation," Eaves said.
In the meantime, Fulton's school system has stopped new hires and spending until all this is figured out.
Friday's court hearing was scheduled for 1:30 p.m.