Worth taxpayers may have to pay for freeze in homestead - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Worth taxpayers may have to pay for freeze in homestead

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By Delivrine Registre - bio | email

August 19, 2008

SYLVESTER, GA (WALB) - Frustrated Worth county, city, and school board officials say they're working with tight budgets, and a freeze in homestead relief would hurt their already strapped finances. 

"Right now we are looking at the total check for us being close to one million dollars, $996,000," said Worth Tax Commissioner, Tabitha DuPrist.

Money from homestead relief is a major source of revenue for Worth County. "For the county alone, you are looking at close to $400,000 for the school board you are looking at $510,000," said DuPrist.

Money also goes to the Economic Development Authority and to smaller cities. "And for some of your smaller cities that is a larger portion of their income," said DuPrist. But the Worth County school board would take the biggest hit.

A 6 percent state budget cut in education is already costing them more than $300,000. The homestead exemption freeze would be about another $500,000 in cuts. "We've already been hit hard with energy and fuel costs, and we are trying to absorb these cuts without losing personnel and services to students," said Worth County School Superintendent, Jim McMickin.

And these cuts would be passed along to taxpayers who would normally receive the homestead exemption. "For each individual taxpayer, it could affect them anywhere from $100 to $270 in their tax bills this year," said DuPrist.

But county officials are taking action. "We've sent letters along with the school board and the city stressing what needs to be done, and that we don't need this to happen at this time," said Worth County Chairman, Dan Miller.

And if their pleas fall on deaf ears, they warn homeowners that the extra tax bill will hit their mailboxes this January. Worth County homeowners will be sent their 2007 tax bills in about two weeks.

A notice explaining the extra bill that may come in January for those who would receive the Homestead exemption will also be attached.

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