The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that on Tuesday, Ferdinand presented copies of two uncashed cashier’s checks from Mayor Kasim Reed to the county’s Board of Ethics members during a probable-cause hearing. Ferdinand said the checks prove the Atlanta mayor attempted to pay his taxes on time in October 2009.
It marked the first time the county’s tax chief had publicly explained why Reed, who “owed tens of thousands of dollars in delinquent property taxes soon after taking office,” received different treatment than ordinary taxpaying citizens.
Ferdinand offered several examples on Tuesday of other taxpayers who he said
received the same treatment as the mayor.
A Rome, Ga.-based ethics advocate had previously filed the ethics complaint, charging Ferdinand of a coverup.
Tuesday’s events were just another twisting turn in the complex story that The AJC first began reporting last September. Read more from The AJC here, but note that it is posted under the subscriber content section.
Background from The AJC
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution broke the story last year that Fulton County Tax Commissioner Aurthur Ferdinand appeared to have given special treatment to Mayor Kasim Reed on Reed’s overdue property taxes. Tuesday’s meeting of the Fulton County Ethics Board was a direct result of that report.
The news organization long ago established that Ferdinand is the highest-paid elected official in the state. In addition to his regular salary, the commissioner charges three cities in Fulton County $1 per parcel for handling those cities’ tax collections. In addition he relies heavily on selling liens for unpaid taxes to private companies — for which he collects 50 cents per transaction. Some of the lien buyers have then used aggressive tactics against delinquent taxpayers to collect on the debt.
Including his salary and the additional fees he collected, Ferdinand’s pay in 2013 totaled $383,000, the AJC found.
In large part because of the AJC’s reporting, Fulton legislators have proposed making Ferdinand’s position an appointed rather than elected one, and changing the law so that tax commissioners may not collect fees for selling their constituents’ tax liens.