Proposal to end property tax meets mixed reviews - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Proposal to end property tax meets mixed reviews

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July 24, 2007

Albany -- Georgia's House Speaker wants to do away with ad valorem taxes.

While some are all for it, other local leaders think it might not be such a good idea.

In the final days of the 2007 legislative session, a resolution was introduced that would do away with ad valorem taxes.

And while lawmakers are reviewing the plan, if passed in '08, it could bring major changes in current Georgia taxation procedures.

"It wants to eliminate ad valorem taxes which the county, city, and schools does based on the value of property," said Dougherty County tax director Denver Collins Hooten.

Under the current law, property taxes remain in the hands of local governments which allocate money for such services as fire departments and schools.

In 2006, Dougherty County brought in $91 million in ad valorem taxes. Under the current proposal, taxed revenue would go into the hands of the state. It would then be up to state officials to decide how much money Dougherty County and every other county in the state would get.

But that money would not come from property taxes, instead it would be earned from taxation on previously exempt services like daycare and haircuts.

A 4% state retail tax would remain, but would likely be tacked on to groceries, also currently exempt. The spending of those taxed earnings would be up to state officials.

"The people who have the responsibility, authority, and knowledge base as to how those funds should be spent and be made are the people at the local level," said Rep. Winfred Dukes, (D) Albany.

But some leaders say it's too early to make assumptions about the proposal.

Rep. Ed Rynders, (R) Lee County said, "In the legislature, we're going to look at the exemptions, and what we're going to do to give local control. For anyone to really formulate an opinion at this early date is way premature, and tells you their process about getting property tax relief."

Still six months until the votes are cast underneath the Gold Dome, you can be sure that time will be filled with much debate on this issue.

House speaker Glenn Richardson is sponsoring the bill which critics say would cost the state hundred of millions of dollars.

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