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Taxpayers group wants taxes cut for seniors

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

January 28, 2009

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A class action lawsuit between a group of Dougherty County taxpayers and the county is still awaiting a ruling from the Georgia Court of Appeals, but that group isn't sitting idle. Thursday, they'll meet to discuss if they want to select candidates to run against current City, County and School Board positions in the next elections. They also want the local governments to act now on cutting out school taxes for people over 65.

It's been three months since the case brought against Dougherty County by taxpayers made its way to the court of appeals, but as they wait, leader Richard Thomas, continues with the mission.  He said, "Our mission right now is to offer the citizens of Dougherty County some tax relief."

He says that was the purpose behind the lawsuit to begin with. "We feel that confident in our mission and our statement to reduce taxes and the illegitimate nature of the tax increase that was imposed on Dougherty County citizens in 2007."

A new goal of the group, is to help cut out taxes people over 65 pay to the school system. "These people have no kids in school," said Thomas. "They can't move. They're immobile and they can't move to other counties, locations like the young people that are vacating Dougherty County."

While it's not argued in the lawsuit, there's another reason Thomas is sticking to his guns when it comes to fighting property revaluations.  He said, "Today we have values in this town that are 25% below what they were assessed for in 2006 and 2007 and yet our citizens are shackled with these inflated values, inflated millage rates."

Thomas has also begun meeting with taxpayers in other counties fighting reassessments to help them in their efforts. He says those efforts aren't in vain. A county in North Carolina recently threw out their reassessments when a multitude of citizens appealed.

The Court of Appeals must issue a ruling on the case by the end of March. If the lawsuit is thrown out, the taxpayers group plans to appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court.

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