Lee Morris is finishing his second term as District 3 Fulton County Commissioner and seeking re-election. District 3 encompasses Buckhead, parts of Midtown and southern Sandy Springs.
Morris has focused on the County’s role in fighting crime. Cities are responsible for policing, but the County has a role in public safety. Many justice partners in Fulton are separately elected officials. The Board of Commissioners (BOC) cannot tell a judge how to decide a case, the district attorney who to prosecute, or the sheriff how to run the jail. But the BOC funds those departments’ budgets and Morris has always supported adequate funding of the justice system. Last year, the BOC allocated an extra $75Million to address the backlog of criminal and civil cases accumulated during the pandemic. As liaison with the justice partners, Morris monitors that effort. Now more than ever Morris believes Fulton must ensure that law enforcement officials have the funding needed to keep our neighborhoods safe.
With rapid increases in home values, homeowners face rising property taxes. Each year Morris has served on the BOC, with his often being the key 4th vote, the millage rate for the County’s portion of your property tax bill has been reduced. Morris also caused the Board of Assessors, which had been improperly applying some homesteads, to correct its practices and enable more citizens to benefit from the homestead exemptions available under the law.
Morris worked to help put the voter-approved Atlanta “floating” homestead exemption on the ballot. Floating exemptions increase when valuations increase, greatly reducing net tax increases. Such exemptions already applied to County, Sandy Springs, and Fulton Schools portions.
One of Morris’ most significant wins for taxpayers was his efforts to correct excesses of the state-created Development Authority of Fulton County (DAFC). The DAFC grants tax abatements to developments, many of which Morris believed would have been built without abatements, in effect shifting tax burden to homeowners. While the BOC has no oversight of this state-created authority, it appoints its members. Morris successfully added seats for the two school systems, because over half of the abated taxes are school board taxes.
Finally, after press coverage of the scandal involving DAFC “per diems”, Morris sponsored public reporting of per diems and financial disclosure by DAFC board members.
With Morris’ background in accounting and law, he emphasizes accountability within agencies reporting to the BOC. But Morris also has a vision for the future, a vision consistent with the County’s Sustainability Plan adopted in 2019. The plan sets six priority areas to preserve natural resources and improve the County’s resiliency, including climate change mitigation, social equity, smart transit and high-performance County infrastructure.
Morris graduated from Duke University and practiced as a CPA before studying law at Emory University. He has been active for 45 years in his church, St Dunstan‘s Episcopal.
Morris is honored to be endorsed by so many elected officials – women and men, Black, White and Asian, Democrats and Republicans, gay and straight. He has been endorsed by the Atlanta Realtors Association and the Atlanta Commercial Board of Realtors, and Georgia Equality.
For this unusual collection of endorsements and to learn more about Lee Morris and his work, visit his website: VoteLeeMorris.com.