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Death of tax reform

POSTED: March 26, 2008 5:00 a.m.

The remnants of House Speaker Glenn Richardson’s much debated GREAT plan to do away with property taxes officially bit the dust last week, when legislators voted it down.

Not that what Richardson finally offered up was anything like what the Hiram Republican initially trumpeted.

After months of backlash from groups such as the Georgia Municipal Association and Association of County Commissioners of Georgia, gone was Richardson’s proposal to eliminate all property taxes and replace them with taxes on sales and services – and a corresponding removal of much of the exemptions on both.

In its place, Richardson supported a neutered plan to eliminate only the tax on vehicles and freezes on property tax assessments.

The GMA and ACCG opposed even caps, claiming it’s state interference in the way local governments do business.

That is true. But as this paper has maintained from the beginning, something has to be done to lessen the burden on homeowners in counties hit hard by the combination of rapid residential growth and escalating real estate prices. And if local government won't do anything about it, then it falls on state government to step in.

This isn’t about a tax break for the rich, which is how it’s been portrayed by opponents. Indeed, those who are being hit hardest in the wallet by this wave of growth along Georgia's coast are homeowners of modest means who happen to have lived for a long time in places others have lately been finding more and more desirable.

That’s fundamentally unfair. Richardson’s GREAT plan may have had flaws, but he deserves credit for bringing the idea of property tax reform to the forefront.

Now it’s up to homeowners, who make up more than 70 percent of the tax digest in Bryan County, to keep the issue from being ignored.

Contact your local state representatives and senator: Rep. Ron Stephens at (404) 656-5122 or 966-5665; Rep. Bob Lane at (404) 656-5138 or 764-6813; or Sen. Eric Johnson at (404) 656-5109 or 443-1577.


Bryan County News

March 12, 2008

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