Since February of last year, I, along with a determined group of senior taxpayers, have been speaking with the Coweta Board of Education asking that the existing 15 year old tax exemptions be upgraded to offset the reality of a 36 percent deteriorated value that has occurred in that time period.
This can be blamed primarily on the rising cost of living index. This factor plus the increased assessed tax values of homes greatly impacts senior taxpayers especially those living on fixed income.
In October, after a public survey was conducted by the BOE on their website resulting in overwhelming support for improvements of these exemptions, a plan was presented to the board members for vote. This plan had been well researched by Dr. Barker and his staff with several options for board members' review.
As of the night of the vote, no public statements in opposition to the plan had been made by board members. The recommended option showed a 1.8 million dollar value that substantially increased some 47 percent the three levels of exemptions with the largest increase going to the oldest senior taxpayers who are over 75 years old or older.
Our group was very pleased with the plan that was made by the BOE who made it in good faith without knowing changes in the future local economy, state funding or other factors that could potentially cut into their revenue.
The vote approving the plan was 6-1 but unfortunately one board member voted "no" later explaining she wanted a "more aggressive" plan.
As reported by the NTH, votes on issues coming to our local delegation in the state legislature impacting laws, under their existing rules, need to be unanimous.
Thankfully, in November, our friends on the Coweta County Commission voted 5-0 supporting the BOE plan, and that does help. But we are left with the potential roadblock if our local legislative delegation feels they cannot move the matter forward into law based on the October BOE 6-1 vote.
What can we taxpayer do now ? The NTH publishes contact information on the five members of our legislative delegation who are State Senator Brass along with Representatives Smith, Bonner, Stover and Trammell. They are a fine group of reasonable people who will listen to you. I have been in contact with them and they are following this issue closely.
Please tell them how the overdue increases in exemptions will improve the wellbeing of our very vulnerable senior taxpayers. Ask them to look at the fact that that no board member or BOE staff is against exemption improvements and our county commissioners are behind it, too.
Also, if passed in Atlanta as a law change and then returns for a public vote on a 2019 ballot as required, the 98,484 registered voters here in this county will have the opportunity keep our reputation of a "tax friendly "county, not a "tax hungry" county. And ask the delegation to alter the rule that might prevent their support on this important issue. Please make your contacts quickly.