September 13, 2007
RELIEF IS HOT TOPIC AT COMMISSIONERS MEETING
The room was
full as the BOC opened its meeting Monday morning-September
10, 2007. The Senior Citizens Center patrons were in attendance
as well as several other senior citizens, mostly from District
prepared a “white paper” and had it passed around to everyone
in attendance. It was an article that he composed and has
sent to various people throughout the county via email over
the last month. In this paper Comm. Bernard advocates No
School Taxes for Seniors (those over 62), regardless of
income. Comm. Bernard has made many statements
in past meetings about the increase in tax assessments for
people in the Northern part of the County, and especially
in his District around the lake.
It is true that
people in their late 60’s most likely don’t have children
in the public school system. It is true that over 50% of
our property taxes are paid to the Public School System
(almost 60% of the property tax bill).
What also is true is that there are many people
paying school taxes that have never had children in the
public schools in Jasper County, either because
they don’t have children or because they prefer to send
their child/children to private school.
meeting there were emotional comments such as “Give Seniors
tax relief so they can live their lives here.” It was mentioned
several times that all Seniors are on a fixed income. Who
isn’t on a fixed income? How many people have
opportunities to adjust their income? Very few. Even for
those that still work, it is doubtful their employer will
give them an immediate raise just because their property
tax bill went up. It was never suggested at the meeting
that the tax break be given to those with low incomes, but
only to those that reach the age of 62 regardless of income.
needs to be looked at realistically. The School System needs
a certain amount of money to operate. Most
people will agree that budget cuts are rarely seen at the
School Board and the tax increases are usually in the double
digits; however, the School Board must
have money to operate, and they will tax us to get it.
At present the
School Board receives property taxes in the amount of approximately
$7 million a year. If the number of people that are paying
school tax now decreases by 30%, that means that the people
left to pay the School tax will see their taxes increase
significantly to make up the difference—in
fact your bill would go up 50% from what you pay now if
you’re not over 62. Taxes will not decrease!
The “tax savings” will be reallocated to other citizens
are several different property tax exemptions available
to property owners now. There is homestead,
breaks for low income “elderly”—meaning either 62 or 65
years of age, and other exemptions. If you want to find
out if you qualify, call the Tax Assessors office at 706-468-4904
or go by and get the forms and talk to someone in that office.
After a rousing
“campaign speech” to the audience Monday morning, Comm.
Bernard made a motion to send a resolution to the State
Legislature to approve home rule legislation that would
allow a Referendum on the
ballot to exempt all citizens over 62 from School taxes.
Citizens would then vote on this issue.
This resolution was passed 3-2 with Comm. Hill and Comm.
Pennamon voting no.
to consider for those that pay school taxes and feel they
are getting no benefit from the tax they pay—call
your school board representative and ask them to fund the
library and not cut the funding for the library. Many
“seniors” use the library and this would be one way they
could see their “school taxes” at work.
Board Members are:
Bobby Norris, Phyllis Norwood, Joel Gaston, Joy Wild, and
Board of Education
706-468-6350 or 706-468-4953
on this article or to let your feelings be known email us
or visit our website. You can also Speak Out on the
message board set up to do just that: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/speakoutjasper/
** To keep the taxpayers of Jasper County, Georgia informed
as to where and how
their tax dollars are being spent.
** To keep the taxpayers abreast of local policies and
discussed and enacted.
** We advocate more open government, less government spending,
and lower property taxes.