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Politics

Midterm Elections: Here’s A Breakdown of Key Issues On the Ballot in Metro Atlanta

Voters in the city, Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, Clayton and Gwinnett must decide on measures that will impact members of their local communities and state.

Voters in the Atlanta metro area also must decide on several key down-ballot issues that will impact members of their local communities and their state. (Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

There’s a lot more at stake on Election Day than who the state’s next governor and U.S. senator is going to be.

Voters in metro Atlanta also must decide on several key down-ballot issues that will impact members of their local communities and their state.

Georgia citizens will be tasked with deciding whether to add a pair of amendments to the state’s constitution. They also must choose if they want to adopt or reject an additional set of statewide ballot measures. 

Atlanta residents will determine whether they want to extend hours for the sale of packaged alcoholic beverages on Sundays. Additional regional issues are on the ballot in Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, Gwinnett and Clayton counties as well.

Here’s a breakdown of most of the election questions metro Atlanta voters must answer on Nov. 8.

Statewide Issues

Proposed Constitutional Amendment #1

What does it say?

“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to suspend the compensation of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State School Superintendent, Commissioner of Insurance, Commissioner of Agriculture, Commissioner of Labor, or any member of the General Assembly while such individual is suspended from office following indictment for a felony?”

What does that mean?

It’s been more than a year since former Georgia Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck was sentenced to seven years in federal prison for fraud after being suspended from office in 2019. Existing Georgia law allows state officials like Beck to get paid while they’re suspended from office after being accused of a felony. 

This amendment would prevent qualifying elected leaders from being paid while they are suspended from office if a grand jury accused them of committing a felony. It would apply to officials in all three branches of state government.

How does it affect me?

It’s your tax dollars that pay the salaries of elected officials. This decision will determine whether state elected leaders accused of serious crimes will continue getting paid while they’re barred from working for alleged misdeeds.

What does a “Yes” vote mean?

A “Yes” vote indicates you want to amend Georgia’s constitution to stop state elected officials from being paid if they’re suspended from office for being accused of a felony. 

What does a “No” vote mean?

A “No” vote signifies you do not want to amend Georgia’s constitution to stop state elected officials from being paid if they’re suspended from office for being accused of a felony.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment #2

What does it say?

“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to provide that the governing authority of each county, municipality, and consolidated government and the board of education of each independent and county school system in this state shall be authorized to grant temporary tax relief to properties within its jurisdiction, which are severely damaged or destroyed as a result of a disaster and located within a nationally declared disaster area?”

What does it mean?

This proposed amendment would change the state’s constitution to give local governments the authority to temporarily forgo property taxes on properties that were severely damaged or destroyed in a disaster. But it would require those properties to be in a nationally declared disaster area for property taxes to be waived.

How does it affect me?

If this amendment passes, the leaders in your city or county could keep you, your neighbors, and your family from paying property taxes for homes and businesses if those structures reside in a region that the federal government has declared a disaster area.

What does a “Yes” vote mean?

A “Yes” vote means you want to give your local government the power to decide whether to waive property taxes during disaster circumstances.

What does a “No” vote mean?

A “No” vote indicates you do not want to give local governments the power to waive property taxes during federally declared disasters.

Referendum Question A

What does it say?

Shall the Act be approved which grants a state-wide exemption from all ad valorem taxes for certain equipment used by timber producers in the production or harvest of timber?”

What does it mean?

This would change a provision of Georgia law that applies to tax exemptions on farm equipment and products. Right now, the law says the farm products exemption doesn’t apply to timber equipment. Going forward, the exemption would apply to timber equipment if voters approve this measure.

How does it affect me?

If you or people you care about work in the timber industry, this vote could save you money on taxes, but that’s also revenue that could be used for other government services.

What does a “Yes” vote mean?

You support allowing timber harvesting equipment to be included in the state’s farm products tax exemption.

What does a “No” vote mean?

You’re against adding timber harvesting equipment to the farm products tax exemption.

Referendum Question B

What does it say?

“Shall the Act be approved which expands a state-wide exemption from ad valorem taxes for agricultural equipment and certain farm products held by certain entities to include entities comprising two or more family owned farm entities, and which adds dairy products and unfertilized eggs of poultry as qualified farm products with respect to such exemption?”

What does it mean?

Family-owned farms, dairy products, and unfertilized chicken eggs would be considered farm products that are eligible for the related state tax exemption if this referendum passes.


How does it affect me?

If you or someone you care about owns a family farm, produces dairy products, or unfertilized chicken eggs, this measure could be a money saver. That’s also tax revenue the state can’t use for government services.

What does a “Yes” vote mean?
You’re in favor of applying this tax exemption to family-owned farms, dairy products, and unfertilized chicken eggs.

What does a “No” vote mean?

You’re against applying this tax exemption to family-owned farms, dairy products, and unfertilized chicken eggs.

City of Atlanta

Extension of Hours for Sale of Packaged Alcohol Beverages on Sundays

What does it say?

“Shall the governing authority of the City of Atlanta be authorized to permit and regulate Sunday sales of malt beverages, wine, and distilled spirits by the drink from 11:00 AM. to 12:00 Midnight and by the package from 11:00 AM. to 12:00 Midnight?”

What does it mean?

The current city law limits package stores, grocery stores, and wine shops to selling alcohol between 12:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. on Sundays. This legislation would expand those hours from 11 a.m. to midnight. 

How does it affect me?

If you like to drink, this law would make it easier to buy some of your favorite spirits at local stores.

What does a “Yes” vote mean?
You’re in favor of expanding the hours for alcohol purchases in the city from 11 a.m. to midnight.

What does a “No” vote mean?

You’re against expanding those hours.

Fulton County

Fulton County School District Homestead Exemption

What does it say?

“Shall the Act be approved which provides a homestead exemption from Fulton County school district ad valorem taxes for educational purposes in the amount of $10,000.00 of the assessed value of the homestead for residents of that county school district who are older than 65 years of age and who have been granted a homestead exemption on property located in Fulton County for at least five years prior to making such application?”

What does it mean?

Homestead exemptions decrease the amount of property taxes homeowners pay for their residence, but first, you have to apply for these exemptions. If this measure passes, it would grant a $10,000 homestead exemption to Fulton County school district residents age 65 and older who have received a homestead exemption on property in the county for at least five years prior.

How does it affect me?

If you’re an eligible senior citizen who owns a home in the Fulton County school district, you can receive an additional $10,000 in savings on your taxes if you’re approved for this exemption. That’s revenue that wouldn’t go to fund county school district services.

What does a “Yes” vote mean?
You support enacting this new property tax break for senior citizen homeowners in the Fulton County school district.

What does a “No” vote mean?

You oppose enacting this new property tax break for senior citizen homeowners in the Fulton County school district.

DeKalb County

Transition of Public Works Services from DeKalb County to City of Tucker 

What does it say?

“Shall the City of Tucker be authorized to directly provide road construction and maintenance including curbs, sidewalks, street-lights, devices to control the flow of traffic, and stormwater management rather than rely upon DeKalb County to provide such services on its behalf and to levy and collect ad valorem property tax at a millage rate not to exceed 3 mills simultaneous with the ending of the collection of DeKalb County road and transportation special district ad valorem property tax?”

What does it mean?

This ballot question asks whether you want Tucker to supply its own road construction and maintenance services instead of depending on DeKalb County for those services. Doing this would require Tucker to raise property taxes.

How does it affect me?

If this measure passes, the city of Tucker would take care of its own road construction and maintenance services instead of relying on DeKalb County to provide them. The measure would also increase property taxes in Tucker by about $94.

What does a “Yes” vote mean?

You support Tucker doing its own road and maintenance services and raising property taxes.

What does a “No” vote mean?

You oppose Tucker doing its own road and maintenance services and raising property taxes.

Gwinnett County

Board of Commissioners SPLOST Referendum

What does it say?

“Shall a special one percent sales and use tax be reimposed in the Special District of Gwinnett County for a period of six years commencing on April 1, 2023 and for the raising of an estimated amount of $1,350,000,000 for the purposes of courthouse facility renovation, transportation (roads, streets, bridges, sidewalks and related facilities and equipment), public safety facilities and equipment, park, trail and recreational facilities and equipment, senior services facilities, animal welfare facility renovation, fleet management facility expansion, city administrative facilities and equipment, city water, sewer and utility capital improvements, city stormwater capital outlay projects, city parking facilities, city cultural and civic facilities and equipment, and city general obligation debt retirement? If reimposition of the tax is approved by the voters, such vote shall also constitute approval of the issuance of general obligation debt of Gwinnett County in the principal amount of not to exceed $100,000,000 for the purpose of one or more of the above projects that will be owned or operated or both by Gwinnett County.”

What does it mean?

This ballot question asks if you support Gwinnett County creating a temporary 1% sales tax that will last six years beginning on April 1, 2023, to raise about $1.35 billion to fund the listed services, including public safety, park, trail, and recreational facility improvements.

How does it affect me?

The county will borrow a maximum of $100 million to pay for one or more of these projects if this measure is approved.

What does a “Yes” vote mean?

You support creating a temporary 1% sales tax that will last six years beginning on April 1, 2023, to raise about $1.35 billion to fund the listed service facility improvements.

What does a “No” vote mean?

You oppose creating this tax.

Clayton County

Special Referendum (City of Morrow)

What does it say?

“Shall the Act be approved that provides for an amendment to the $60,000.00 homestead exemption from the City of Morrow ad valorem taxes for municipal purposes so as to increase the exemption to $80,000.00?”

What does it mean?

Homestead exemptions reduce the amount of property taxes homeowners pay for their residence, but first, one must apply for these exemptions. If this measure passes, it would increase Morrow’s homestead property tax exemption from $60,000 to $80,000.

How does this affect me?

Eligible Morrow residents could apply to receive $80,000 homestead property tax exemption. Cities typically use property taxes to fund city services, such as trash collection and fixing roads, so some of those services could be affected if enough people are approved for tax exemptions. The measure will take effect in January if it passes.

What does a “Yes” vote mean?

You support Morrow increasing its homestead property tax exemption from $60,000 to $80,000.

What does a “No” vote mean?

You oppose Morrow increasing its homestead property tax exemption from $60,000 to $80,000.

Cobb County

Cityhood Question — Mableton

What does it say?

“Shall the Act incorporating the City of Mableton in Cobb County, imposing term limits, prohibiting conflicts of interest, and creating community improvement districts be approved?”

What does it mean?

It means, depending on where you live in Cobb County, you’ll have a say in whether Mableton becomes a city.

How does it affect me?

Mableton would form its own municipal government, and its residents would pay some of their taxes to the new city instead of Cobb County for select localized services.

Visit the Cobb County Cityhood Resource Center for more information.

What does a “Yes” vote mean?

You support Mableton becoming a city.

What does a “No” vote mean?

You oppose Mableton becoming a city.