South Fulton County

Lawsuit says city of College Park refuses to obey law it asked Georgia legislature to pass

COLLEGE PARK, Ga. — The city of College Park asked the Georgia state legislature to pass a bill allowing it to have a senior homestead exemption.

Now, a new lawsuit says the city is refusing to obey the law it asked for.

Shirley Robinson, 82, said she never expected she would be, not just fighting city hall, but suing the city of College Park in superior court.

“Well, I was heartbroken,” Robinson told Channel 2 consumer investigator Justin Gray.

Heartbroken because College Park City Council voted not to hold a November referendum on the senior citizen homestead exemption she led the fight for.

Robinson worries about losing her home of more than 40 years with rising property values increasing her tax bill as inflation increases other bills.

“I’m on a fixed income. Fixed income means just what it says: fixed. I have no extra money coming in,” Robinson said.

Robinson filed a lawsuit against College Park because the November referendum is required by a new state law passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Brian Kemp earlier this year.


The state passed the law after the city requested it, but in a July meeting, the council voted not to include the referendum on the November ballot.

“This says you shall have a vote and the city council said we shall not and there’s nothing more complicated to it than that,” Luke Andrews, Robinson’s attorney, said.

City leaders said the language in the law was not what they expected.

The exemption would be for all homeowners over 65. College Park said it only wanted to target low-income citizens over 70.

Councilman Roderick Gay said that is the city’s problem, not seniors.

“We’ve had about five opportunities before the governor signed the bill to make sure the language was exactly what we wanted,” Gay said.

College Park Mayor Bianca Motley Broom declined Gray’s request for an interview and referred him to the video message she shared this week on social media.

In it, she told city residents, “The bill provided significant financial benefit to individuals who are not economically disadvantaged.”

Andrews said that is no excuse to violate state law.

“When it’s a law telling you what you have to do, your reasons for not wanting to do it don’t matter,” Andrews said.

Gay said the budget difference between the exemption College Park said it wants and what it got is less than $1 million of the city’s $140 million budget.

But the exemptions could make a huge impact for homeowners like Robinson.

“There’s no money to pay this, and I don’t want to lose my house because of taxes,” Robinson said.

Broom said the city wants the legislature to rewrite the bill in the 2023 session.