Anyone wishing to weigh in on adjusting school property tax exemptions for seniors has until Oct. 3 to comment online.
The link to the Coweta County Board of Education’s site, called “Senior Citizens Tax Exemption - School Council & Public Input,” is on the Coweta County School System’s website at www.cowetaschools.net . The board of education is soliciting public input through an email link on the site.
A number of residents have expressed their thoughts and made suggestions through the site, according to Coweta County School System spokesman Dean Jackson.
“I think we’ve seen good public interest in this,” he said. “We’ve had many citizens make comments expressing their opinions on a possible adjustment to the current senior tax exemption schedule.”
Over the past few months, several Coweta residents have expressed concerns that property values may change drastically in 2020, after appraisers complete their revaluation of every residential and agricultural property in Coweta County.
The senior tax exemptions were adopted in their present form by the school board and Coweta voters in 2002 and went into effect in 2003. Superintendent Steve Barker said residents who have contacted the board are asking that a decision on adjustments made as soon as possible.
The site gives an overview and history of the school property tax, as well as a link to the Coweta Tax Assessors Office.
The exemptions are $40,000 for ages 65 to 70, $60,000 for ages 71 to 74 and $80,000 for ages 75 and older. Those exemptions are subtracted from the “assessed value” of a home before the millage rate is applied. The assessed value is set at 40 percent of fair market value.
On a practical level, Cowetans ages 65-70 don’t have to pay school tax on the first $100,000 of their homestead’s property value. Ages 71-74 are exempt from taxes on $150,000 in value, and ages 75 and older are exempt from the first $200,000 in value. Exemptions are based on the owner’s age as of Jan. 1 of each year, and must be applied for. They are not automatic.
The tax assessor’s office provided an estimate of the impact of the school system exemption if it is raised by certain levels, Barker said, and those scenarios are included on the site. He stressed that the public is not being asked to vote on anything.
“You are being asked to review it and share any pros and cons the board should consider before making any decision,” he said.
The school board doesn’t make the final decision, either.
“The matter would ultimately go to our state delegation to be voted on in the state legislature,” Barker said.
If passed, it would be placed on the ballot next year for the voters to decide.
“We just initiate the process if the board wishes to,” Barker said.
(Newnan Times-Herald staff writer Rebecca Leftwich contributed to this article.)