Ballot questions could help some people, groups - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Ballot questions could help some people, groups

November 3, 2006

Albany -- Several Constitutional Amendments will appear on the ballot Tuesday. One of them is an amendment to section two of House Bill 81, which offers tax relief to survivors of emergency workers.   

"The job a public safety worker is never easy." Just ask Deputy Chief David Eddins with the Albany Fire Department.

"Hiring on to the job we know there are risks." Risks that can sometimes prove deadly.  "We go into burning fires we get caught in hazardous material, environments, things like that," said Eddins.

With those dangers in mind, he's grateful for a proposed constitutional amendment to House Bill 81, Section 2 found on Tuesday's ballot.  "It would be one less thing we have to worry about," said Eddins. "There'll be a lot going on to deal with to get some back to some sort of normalcy."

"It basically says the surviving spouse of someone killed in the line of duty in these particular situations, all ad valorem taxes," says County Tax Director Denver Hooten. Are exempted from local property taxes.  Hooten says the amendment stands a good chance of passing with voters.

Hooten: "The majority of exemptions usually pass because the general public likes to think that everything is being done for a private group or for the elderly or for a surviving spouse."

If passed, spouses affected by the amendment would have to contact the tax assessor to qualify for the entitlement.  "According to the amendment, we're going to provide an affidavit for them to complete which shows they are eligible for that entitlement."

When Election Day rolls around, the amendment will get a vote of "yes" from Eddins. "If something unfortunate was to happen to me, I would like to have that benefit passed on to my family."   

Public safety officials aren't the only one who will benefit from a possible tax cut. An amendment to section four of House Bill 81, will freeze property tax rates when a taxpayer dies so they won't increase for the surviving spouse.

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