Homeowners like proposed amendment to cap tax assessments - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Homeowners like proposed amendment to cap tax assessments

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

November 24, 2008

LEE COUNTY, GA (WALB) -    One of the first pieces of major legislation in the 2009 Georgia General Assembly session will be a proposed constitutional amendment to cap property tax reassessments.

Dougherty County and many other Georgia taxpayers demanded legislation after staggering reassessments on home values in 2007.

Senate Republicans have pre-filed House Resolution One, and promise to make it their first key piece of legislation. Tax advocates wonder why it took so long.

Georgia homeowner Robert Rehberg is a retired accountant and tax advocate, who has long demanded a freeze on property tax assessments.

Rehberg said "I am for anything that would lower property taxes, and I think this would do it."

Now Georgia Republican Leaders are responding to outraged homeowners, who saw what they called outrageous property tax reassessments in recent years.

House Resolution One would cap residential property assessed values from being increased by more than two percent a year or the rate of inflation.

Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers said "It is senseless that a homeowner can be sacked with a 50 percent increase in property taxes just because a government bureaucrat claims the home value has increased on paper."

 Representative Ed Rynders said " Property taxes and their increase outstripped the rate of inflation three or four times. So what we have to do is look at what is in the best interest of everyone in the state of Georgia."

Albany Democrat Winfred Dukes says HR I will probably pass, but worries that state law is moving into county responsibility.

Dukes said "If I wanted to be a County Commissioner and address how property values should be raised on a county level, I would run for county commission."

Rehberg says since home values are decreasing now, taxes values should also be falling. He says H R I is good, but homeowners deserve more reassessment protections.

Bill co sponsor Representative Edward Lindsey says House Resolution One needs to be a state constitutional amendment to provide uniform permanent protection for Georgia property owners, so local governments can not challenge it.

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