October 3, 2007
ATLANTA (AP) - County commissioners were skeptical as Georgia's House speaker pitched his plan to eliminate property taxes and replace them by expanding state sales taxes.
In a speech to the Association of County Commissioners, Speaker Glenn Richardson urged officials to work with him to improve the plan instead of rejecting it outright.
Many county commissioners fear the plan will siphon much-needed local money away and put it in state hands -- taking away local control. Richardson wants to eliminate the property taxes in Georgia.
He'd replace the more than $8 billion in revenue by adding sales taxes to items and services that are currently exempt. That would include food and services ranging from medical fees to haircuts. Richard said medical bills would probably have a "small tax" added to them under the plan.
Tom McMichael, president of the commissioners group, said he had polled members and most don't support the plan. He said there are too many unanswered questions.
Richardson called for greater trust between the layers of government. He said it's time for a radical shift in how the state collects taxes.
The tax plan would have to pass both chambers with a two-thirds vote and would then go to voters in November as a constitutional amendment.