By Marijane Cauthorn
A legal team that includes Cauthorn Nohr & Owen’s Tom Cauthorn and Wick Cauthorn is working to protect the right of Fulton County’s leadership to determine the priority of and financing for public improvements.
Six members of the Georgia General Assembly — all part of the Fulton County legislative delegation — and one former member of the delegation filed suit to prohibit the Fulton County Commission from proceeding with its approved millage rate increase.
A Cobb County judge denied the injunction filed on behalf of the lawmakers to block the tax increase from going into effect. The Cobb judge was assigned the Fulton County case after Fulton judges recused themselves.
Lawyers for the Fulton County Commission, which include Tom and Wick, are asking the court to order the lawmakers who sued to stop the millage rate increase to post as much as a $100 million bond pending the litigation’s outcome.
“This lawsuit places in jeopardy over $100 million related to the construction, improvement, financing and leasing of certain public improvements, projects and facilities,” wrote the lawyers for Fulton County.
The lawsuit asserts that the millage rate increase is a violation of legislation the General Assembly passed last year barring Fulton County from raising the millage rate until January 2015. That legislation relied on a 1951 amendment to the Georgia Constitution that gives the Legislature the authority to decide “the date and time when the fiscal authorities of [Fulton] county shall make or fix the levy of ad valorem taxes and the amount of assessments and other charges.”
The county commission voted to declare the legislation unconstitutional and repeal it, declaring that the state constitution grants taxing authority to the county and that the 1951 amendment does not give the General Assembly the right to limit the county’s power to tax.
Quoted in the Daily Report, Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves applauded this week’s victory:
“We are pleased that the court ruled today that the county can continue to collect the taxes necessary to provide essential services to our citizens,” said Eaves. “We are not unaware of our responsibility to spend money wisely and in the best interests of our constituents. We continue to believe that the Board of Commissioners is in the best position to know what is best for our citizens.”
Subscribers to the Daily Report can read the full stories here:
Marijane Cauthorn is the managing partner at Cauthorn Nohr & Owen.