Fulton County Schools halt spending after tax revenue delay

- A new plan by Fulton County Schools has the system limiting costs and tightening its belt during a fight with the state of Georgia over property tax revenues.

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Fulton County Schools said in a statement that it would immediately halt new hires and new spending and has put on hold any out-of-system travel and student field trips. The only exceptions when it comes to spending are anything related to safety and security, fuel, utilities and complying with federal and state regulations.

"When times are tough, we must prioritize," Superintendent Jeff Rose said. “Our plan of action includes necessary belt-tightening and cost-saving measures to help improve our financial picture through January.”

The issue started last week when Georgia's Department of Revenue rejected Fulton County's tax digest due to the Fulton County Board of Commissioner's decision to freeze property tax values at the 2016 levels. This rejection has delayed tax bills in Fulton County, which means revenue can't be delivered to schools.

When calculating its budget, the district bases 63 percent of its revenue as being from property taxes, Fulton County Schools said.

“This situation is not through any fault of our own. Fulton County Schools has exercised appropriate spending and prudent budgeting,” Rose said.

The school system has joined with Fulton County's government and Atlanta Public Schools to request a judge intervene so that they can collect their share of the property tax money.

APS Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said the delay puts her school system's finances in peril. APS may be forced to get a loan which would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest, the school system said in a statement.

A hearing for a temporary collection order is slated for Friday, Nov. 3.

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