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6-13-05 Oconee Can Afford More Property Tax Relief - Sales Taxes Part 1

……We lowered the millage some in my last year or two to offset the needs of the school board. Since then, the sales tax and property tax revenues have significantly increased but there has been no reduction in property taxes. At the same time, payrolls and bureaucracy have grown. Big ambitious projects have been announced and funding is taken for granted……. . ..........spiraling property values will drive up taxes.



June 5, 2005


Oconee Can Afford More Property Tax Relief - Sales Taxes Part 1


By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc


There have been some reports of support by Oconee Commissioners for tax relief for senior citizens.   This was emphasized during the 2004 election campaign.So far, it has turned out to be nothing more than campaign rhetoric.


During my 26 years in Oconee County government, I was involved in several SPLOST and LOST elections.   We were also active with economic development and infrastructure investment with the stated goal of lessening the tax load on property tax payers.   Most of us were sincere.We lowered the millage some in my last year or two to offset the needs of the school board.   Since then, the sales tax and property tax revenues have significantly increased but there has been no reduction in property taxes.At the same time, payrolls and bureaucracy have grown.   Big ambitious projects have been announced and funding is taken for granted.


About 10 years ago, we appointed a citizens committee (in Oconee County) that included taxpayers, tax officials and a school representative to discuss some tax relief for senior citizens.I advocated increasing the homestead exemption for Oconee County residents.   The school system, at that time, did not think it could afford the reduced revenue.


We did pass some local legislation to allow more exemptions for lower income homeowners.We hoped to do more when future sales tax revenues would permit it.However, the current administration is “starting over” with a new committee.I doubt it will go anywhere.It will bubble to the top before the next election.However, it is doubtful that two key players will be candidates in the next election so they have little motivation to persevere.


The Oconee BOC has experienced significant revenue growth in the last five years.   However, they have spent every dollar!   They have not reduced tax millage at all!  The latest was the current budget year with an increase of $ 1.3 Million in revenue but no millage decrease!


Some key players feel that Oconee is a wealthy county and taxes do not matter.I have never subscribed to that notion.   The Conservation Tax treatment for farms and landowners took away much of the opposition.   However, spiraling property values will drive up taxes.


Citizens and candidates for the 2008 election (or any intervening election) should insist on some tax relief and less spending.    The revenue wherewithal is there.We just need the Will and responsible officials.


Sales tax charts showing LOST and SPLOST receipts since 1993 appear as Parts 2 & 3 of these articles.


LOST (General Fund Sales Tax) increased from $ 745,755.38 in 1993 to $ 3,798,875.62 in 2004.SPLOST (Capital Projects) receipts increased from $ 886,532.69 in 1993 to $ 4,271,456.85 in 2004.   The biggest jumps occurred in the late 90’s when large retail outlets came to Oconee County which had worked vigorously to increase infrastructure the previous decade.


6-4-05 Tax Relief MAY Come in 2007 for Oconee


The Athens Banner-Herald



June 4, 2005                  Oconee County


Commission: Tax relief may not come until 2007
By Merritt Melancon

The Oconee County Commission has taken the first step in providing property tax relief for some senior citizens in the county, but the earliest any relief plan could take effect would be 2007…..

- Theriault said. "We're hoping to provide tax relief for those people who have paid their property taxes for years and years, but at the present time may find it difficult to pay their property taxes in light of rising land values."

Commissioners appointed a six-person panel Tuesday to investigate the county's options for creating a tax-relief program and the county should have a plan ready by November.

But any ordinance pertaining to tax relief would have to be approved by the Georgia General Assembly and then by a majority of Oconee's voters at a referendum before it will affect individual tax bills in 2007.

Although the particulars of the plan won't be ready until November, county officials want a plan that's agreeable to both the commissioners and to the Oconee County Board of Education,said Theriault. …...

6-2-05 SPLOST to Lower Taxes?


The Macon Telegraph           June 1, 2005



Bibb Chair: Lower taxes if SPLOST passes
By Travis Fain

If the SPLOST passes this month, Bibb County property taxes will drop, County Commission Chairman Charles Bishop said Tuesday.

The county property tax rate will go down because the school construction bonds, which would be retired as part of the special purpose local option sales tax, are held by the county. If voters approve the penny sales tax June 21, the County Commission won't have to dip into property tax revenues to pay off the bonds.

"Yes, we will have a rollback of 1.15 mills if we get a SPLOST to pay off the (general obligation school) bonds," Bishop said Tuesday afternoon.

On a $00,000 house, that rollback represents a savings of about $6!!

6-7-05 Property taxes increased by $.6 million last year and the government increased its fund balance by $.6 million.


The Savannah Morning News



June 7, 2005             LETTERS

Effingham residents are being over-taxed

JEFF Rxxxxxx Savannah

(Stop Taxing Our People of Chatham County)

The people of Effingham County are being overtaxed by a very clever administration that is taking advantage of its citizens. Failure to act now will result in even higher taxes down the road. If those residents think that isn't serious, they should consider that:

Despite the fact Effingham County was listed as the 60th fastest-growing county in the United States with a growing digest, the administration failed to roll back the millage rate.

Property taxes increased by $.6 million last year and the government increased its fund balance by $.6 million.

There are questionable uses of Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds in the county. The administration spent $2,694 flushing water pipes built with SPLOST money. That is clearly against SPLOST law.

Water pipes run for development just coincidentally run by the properties of the most influential people in the county.

Effingham has adapted a SPLOST strategy that Chatham County thankfully dropped. Effingham retains about 80 percent of SPLOST money in bank accounts mainly for the purpose of gaining interest and spending the money on pet projects.

Chatham spends its SPLOST money very quickly on the projects voted on by the populace. Effingham should adopt the same policy, but if no one speaks up, why should the government change its actions?

The Effingham government took in $,390,301 in revenue over expenditures in 2004. That clearly means those residents were overtaxed by a government that wants to tax them even more in the form of a bi-state mobility authority that is flirting with the idea of additional property taxes.

I encourage every property owner in Effingham County to file an appeal on his taxes this year. In addition, property owners should ask their legislators to support a floating homestead exemption similar to the Stephens-Day bill we enjoy in Chatham County.

Why should Effingham County residents let their government tax them out of their homes?

6-10-05 Tax Relief Sought for Seniors & “Empty Nesters”


The Gainesville Times



June 10, 2005                 LETTERS


Don't make all homeowners foot the bill for school taxes


Randy Howard, Gainesville

I have been a homeowner in Hall County for 22 years. I do not have any children and get nothing from the Hall County School System.

As a matter of fact, last year I tried to donate a substantial number of reference books to Johnson High School and was told they did not want them. I would value the books at between $ 3,500 and $ 5,000. Yet now they come to me to pay increased school taxes?

What's wrong with having those with kids in the school system pay the increases and leave those who don't alone? What is so terribly wrong with raising the admission fees enough to cover the increased monetary needs of the schools?

I bet half of the people enrolled in the Hall County School System are not from homeowner families, and half probably are not U.S. citizens.