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Fulton County, Georgia

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Fulton County is one of 159 counties in Georgia. The county seat is Atlanta. Fulton County was formed from DeKalb County in 1853. In 2011, U.S. Census data revealed that Fulton remained Georgia's largest county, rising to 920,581 (12.8% increase) since 2000.[1].

Evaluation of website

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Budget Y
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Meetings Y
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Elected Officials Y
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Administrative Officials Y
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Permits, zoning Y
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Audits Y
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Contracts Y
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Lobbying P
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Public records Y
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Local taxes Y
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Transparency grading process


Main article: Evaluation of Georgia county websites

This website was most recently reviewed Feb 28, 2013.

The good

  • Budget
    • Most current budget is posted.[2]
    • Budget information is available dating back to 2007.
  • Meetings
    • Meeting agendas and minutes are provided.[3]
    • Meeting information archived for three years.
  • Elected Officials
    • Contact information for the County Commissioners is provided.[4]
    • Other elected officials and administrators are listed.[5]
  • Administration
    • County administrators and department heads are posted with contact information.[6]
  • Zoning and Permits
    • Zoning information is provided.[7]
    • Some building permit information is posted.[8]
  • Audits
    • Audit and report information is available.[9]
    • Audits are archived to 2004.[10]
  • Contracts
    • Current bids are posted.[11]
    • Awarded bids are posted.[12]
  • Taxes
    • Tax information is online, including an online payment system and a search function for tax bills.[13].
    • A property records search is also available.[14]
  • Lobbying
  • Public Records

[16]

The bad

  • Lobbying
    • The county does not disclose membership dues for the government sector lobbying associations.

Stimulus

Fulton County has received $711,167 in Community Development Block Grant funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus package. The application the county submitted for the funds is available on the website.

Public Employees

Elected Officials

Fulton County is governed by a seven-member Board of Commissioners. Five commissioners are elected by geographic district and two are elected countywide, including the chair. Members are part-time and serve concurrent four-year terms; a person is required to be at least 25 years old and a resident of Fulton County in order to serve on the board. The current chairman of the board, John H. Eaves, has served on the board since 2007. Chairman Eaves maintains a separate website with information for constituents about the county and government services.[17]

Responsibilities of the Board of Commissioners include: establishing policies for the health and welfare of county residents; adopting an annual budget for county government operations; authorizing bond referenda; enacting plans for county growth and development.[18]

Administrative Officials

Title Name Salary Time with County
County Manager Zachary Williams $200,000 in 2010 Appointed in 2008
Clerk to the Commission Mark Massey unknown unknown
Chief Tax Appraiser Burt Manning unknown unknown
Tax Commissioner Arthur E. Ferdinand, Ph.D. $342,000 in 2010[19] Appointed in 1997
County Attorney R. David Ware unknown Appointed in 2008

Salaries

See also: Georgia state government salary


In January 2011, the board of commissioners approved a 2% raise for all county employees making less than $40,000/year, to take effect in June 2011.[20] This raise affects approximately 1/3 of county employees.

The 2011 Budget set the county commissioner board's total appropriation at $3,229,806. It is not clear from the information provided on the website what the salaries are for the individual commissioners.

On May 2, 2011, CBS Atlanta reported that Fulton County Tax Commissioner Arthur Ferdinand has come under fire for earning more than $342,000 in 2010. Ferdinand is paid a base salary from the county of $134,000. The other $208,000 comes from personal service contracts he has with the cities of Atlanta, Johns Creek and Sandy Springs.[21]

Pensions

See also: Georgia public pensions


The Fulton County Employees Retirement System was created in 1991, and all county employees are eligible to participate in the program.[22] The program is governed by an appointed board of 12 members. The Fulton County ERS is a defined-benefit pension plan, and the county also has a defined-contribution plan (401(a)) available to employees.

Lobbying

See also: Georgia government sector lobbying


Fulton County participates in the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG). The ACCG engages in lobbying the Georgia state legislature.[23]. The ACCG is a member of the National Association of Counties, a national government sector lobbying organization.

According to OpenSecrets.org, Fulton County spent $40,000 on a lobbying contract with Alcade & Fay in 2011.[24] OpenSecrets.org reports that Fulton County lobbied the federal government on the following issues in 2011: Seeking federal support for the following: Ryan White HIV/AIDS; CDBG; HOME; WIA; FEMA; FMAP: PILT; Medicare; Medicaid; FAA reauthorization; SAFETEA-LU reauthorization; WRDA reauthorization; TANF; Build America Bonds; Repeal of Section 511 of the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act; Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships; African-American and Minority Procurement; and Department of Justice Initiatives; Monitoring federal grant opportunities and the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Healthcare & Education Reconciliation Act on indigent care.

Transparency & public records

The Fulton County website is graded an "A+" by Sunshine Review for transparency.

Fulton County Justice System

In March 2011, at the recommendation of a blue ribbon study committee, Fulton County officials began an effort to computerize tracking of court cases. The county signed the county a $10.8 million contract with Texas-based Tyler Technologies, Inc., to install a Web-based jail and court case management system called Odyssey. Fulton County IT director Ryan Fernandes told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that the new system would serve as a single data-entry portal for the sheriff's office, Superior Court, State Court, the District Attorney's office, the Solicitor's office, the Clerk's office, the Public Defender's office, Probate Court and Magistrate Court. The new system is designed to help speed up the work flow and make the overall system more efficient. Fernandes called this a "cost-savings" for the county.[25]

Taxes

Fulton County collects property taxes and motor vehicle taxes. The property tax bill is calculated based on the calendar year and issued to the owner of record as of January 1. Bills are sent in July, and Fulton County property taxes are normally due no later than October 15 each year.

For property taxes, homestead exemptions are available. To qualify, Fulton County homeowners must own and occupy the property as their legal residence as of January 1 of the current tax year. To receive the exemption for the current year, applications must be filed by April 1 of the current year.

The Motor Vehicle Division collects applicable ad valorem taxes, issues metal plates/decals, and registrations to automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, tractor trailers, motor homes, boat trailers, and mobile homes.

External links

References

  1. Census Shows Atlanta's Main Counties Grew, March 17, 2011
  2. Budgets
  3. Meetings
  4. Commissioners
  5. Transparency, Elected Officials/Administrators
  6. Transparency, Elected Officials/Administrators
  7. Zoning
  8. Building permit
  9. Audits, Reports
  10. Audit archives
  11. Bids
  12. Awarded bids
  13. Property Taxes
  14. Property Records
  15. Lobbying/Advocacy
  16. Access to Government Records and Public Documents
  17. Chairman Eaves' Website
  18. Fulton County Government Structure
  19. Fulton Tax Commissioner Accepts Over $200k In Personal Payments
  20. Board OKs pay raise for some county employees
  21. CBS Atlanta, Fulton Tax Commissioner Accepts Over $200k In Personal Payments
  22. Retirement Board
  23. ACCG Legislative Advocacy Information
  24. 2011 Fulton County Lobbying
  25. AJC - For $10.8 million, Fulton adopts a cost-cutting measure