East Point to miss deadline for millage rate information

by: Richard Elliot Updated:

East Point's City Council is still locked in a bitter political battle over the budget and failed to set a millage rate for 2013.

EAST POINT, Ga. - East Point's mayor acknowledges the city will miss a deadline to turn over important millage rate information to Fulton County. She did not realize that failure could eventually lead to traffic tickets for some East Point residents.

East Point's City Council is still locked in a bitter political battle over the budget and failed to set a millage rate for 2013. There is a proposal to raise it from 15 mills to 23 mills.

"We're still where we were," says Mayor Earnestine Pittman, "It's as if we had not even started the budget process."

But by state law, each city in Georgia must submit its millage rate information to county tax commissioners. The tax commissioners then relay that information to Georgia's motor vehicle system. That allows the state to mail out license tag renewal information.

Fulton County Tax Commissioner Arthur Ferdinand said he's never seen a city fail to submit that information.

"This has never happened before and it's so unusual that the state doesn't know what's going to come out of the system when they push that print button," says Ferdinand.

Ferdinand sent East Point a letter detailing the consequences of missing Wednesday's deadline. Those consequences include an inability to collect much needed ad valorem taxes. He said it also means people who usually renew their license tags in January might not be able to do that. That means some people might wind up getting traffic tickets for having expired car tags.

"People are going to drive around in January without a pre-bill, without a new tag, and they could be stopped by the police," says Ferdinand. "So it's a very dangerous thing because there's no way you can inform all the police in Georgia and probably other states around here that there is a snafu that was created by East Point government itself."

Pittman says she hadn't realized there could be legal consequences for East Point residents.

"That really could be a problem," says Pittman. "The council is going to get its act together after the election."

Pittman also said the city hired a management firm to help them with the process, but it will take as long as 10 days. The next deadline for February car tag renewals is Dec. 6.