The East Point City charter limits the City from charging residents a property tax rate more than 15 mils. Since this was a charter item I, and perhaps you, believed that this change could only be made by 1) approval of the State Legislation or 2) voter approval. It turns out, I was mistaken, Mayor Pittman is working to remove the limit on property taxes utilizing the “Home Rule”. If successful, Mayor Pittman will set up our City Charter to allow for a PROPERTY TAX WITHOUT LIMIT. If successful, each year City Council could come up with some reason to need money and therefore raise property taxes higher, and higher and higher.
In order for Home Rule to be exercised there is a very specific list of requirements that must be met. All that has to be done is an advertisement in the paper, place on City Council agenda and then voted into place. It cannot be introduced at a “Special Call” meeting, she does have to do this at a regular meeting. There may be attempts to waive the first reading which could allow it to move even quicker.
Take action tonight! The East Point Budget Committee will be hosting a Special Council Workshop this evening, Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 6:30pm at Jefferson Station, Suite 400, Council Chambers, 1526 East Forrest Avenue, East Point, GA. Come be seen and have your voices heard by the Budget Committee directly.
Keep in mind. Even though there are strict guidelines as to how the Mayor will be attempting to change the City Charter, witnesses at the last City Council Meeting observed CM Reed verbally read a multiple page committee report that contained five recommendations. Once these recommendations were read allowed the Council then voted to adopt them. I couldn’t tell you what these actions were because they did not appear on the Council Agenda themselves, just as a “committee report.”
Mayor Pittman argues that because Committee Meetings are open to the public that items discussed in this committee environment can be acted up at the next Council Meeting by simply having recommendations read in a report and adopted. Under this new interpretation citizens need to plan on attending all Committee Meetings the same as they would Council Meetings if you want to stay informed.
More About Home Rule
The Georgia Constitution specifically provides for “home rule” for counties and municipalities in Georgia. While county home rule is constitutionally prescribed, cities may be granted the same right by the state legislature. In both cases the county or city is authorized to adopt “clearly reasonable ordinances, resolutions, or regulations . . . for which no provision has been made by general law and which is not inconsistent with” the Constitution of Georgia. They are prohibited, however, from acting in nine areas: elective offices and salaries, elections and appointments, criminal law, any form of taxation not authorized by the constitution or state law, activities otherwise regulated by the Georgia Public Service Commission, restriction on eminent domain (taking of private property for public use), the courts, the public schools, and private or civil relationships. They are granted specific “supplementary powers” in sixteen areas.
On the simplest level, home rule is just local self-government. What constitutes this self-government, however, is a matter of some dispute. The core principle is that local authorities or populations seek a measure of freedom from the state legislature. Since states are unitary systems (all powers reside at the state level; cities, counties, and special districts are mere tools of the state), such freedom often is an illusion. States may require local governments to perform certain duties and revoke the charters of those who refuse to fulfill these directives. At its most basic, then, home rule is only the ability of local governments to draft and adopt their own charters.
Home rule is one of several proposals of “good government” groups that originated toward the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth. State legislatures in particular were seen as hopelessly corrupt and controlled by predatory business interests. Home rule was seen as a way to break this power and corruption and provide at least some services to local populations. Beginning in the state of Missouri in 1875, cities gradually were granted home rule. Shortly afterward, counties also were granted home rule.
What local home-rule governments may or may not do is a source of contention. Georgia’s list of areas that local governments must avoid and areas that they are permitted to regulate is not unusual in constitutionally described (as opposed to legislatively described) home rule systems. Even so, these areas can be quite broad. In addition, what about situations not covered by the lists but that materialize as conditions change?
Generally, one of two approaches has been taken. The Dillon Rule has been the more popular and widely supported by the courts. Basically the rule says that local governments do not have powers that are not specifically listed in the document (constitution or law) creating the home-rule government. In the 1950s the Fordham Rule began to gain at least modest support. The Fordham Rule says that home-rule governments should be allowed to do whatever they want except in the areas of civil relations and felony criminal law.
Key Tax Rate Hike Information
- Recap on Efforts to Raise Property Taxes in Feb-Mar 2012
- East Point Tax Increase – Cost Breakdown… $40+, $60+, $80+ PER MONTH
- SIGN THE PETITION NOW
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