Seniors take a stand - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Seniors take a stand

October 9, 2007

Putney--  Some Dougherty County senior citizens waged a war against taxes. Many say they could be forced from their homes if they don't get some relief. They banded together at a meeting Tuesday night to come up with solutions and soon county commissioners will hear from them.

Dozens of Dougherty County senior citizens made their way to church Tuesday night. It wasn't for praise.  It was in protest.

"We can not live with it. It is unfair evaluation," said Donnie Smith.

On top of recent high re-valuations, they're concerned about future tax increases from the county and school board. Donnie Smith wants county leaders to listen up.

"They give us no satisfaction, no hope," said Smith, "As seniors, we just cannot afford more taxes." She and her husband are retirees and living on fixed incomes. They already can't afford to keep up with the heavy finances on their properties.

"It's quite large. I won't tell you how much because you'd fall over," said Smith. So before a fallout, she's urging everyone to fill out petitions. They made their way through the crowd, quickly filling up with signatures.

"We taxpayers just haven't insisted on relief. We're our own worst enemy," said Robert Rehberg. The petitions insist and urge county commissioners to look at options for tax relief.

One petition requests the implementation of a homestead valuation freeze exemption in the county. It limits the home value that can be taxed for seniors. Another petition requests a senior school tax exemption that gives 100 percent relief to seniors beginning at age 62. Future retirees like Curtis Smith buy into the plan.

"To have my taxes go from about $1,600 a year to about $4,300 a year potentially is a big jump when my income has dropped like it has," said Smith.

But selling it to others may be hard.  It'll take lots of paper and ink. So an Uncle Sam hat was passed through the aisles. They hope by putting in a few dollars now, they'll save in the long run.

"I'm frustrated with it and if it keeps on, I'm going to have to leave this town," said Smith. That's an outcome she doesn't want but it would prevent what she considers being taxed until death.

The petitions will be delivered to Dougherty County commissioners when enough signatures are gathered. Petitions are also available online.  The website is www.cuttax.org.

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