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A challenge for our local governing bodies

Dear Editor,

I write this letter as a challenge for our local governments to search out ways to give some relief for seniors 65 and above from property tax rates in Troup County — specifically school property tax, which according to local officials makes up 47 percent of the entire tax rate for Troup County.

At present, Troup County offers only the mandated state exemption of $4,000.00 for seniors age 65 or above.

Three out of the five surrounding counties offer as much as five times the standard deduction.

Some of these counties are at the same time operating on much smaller budgets while producing better results on test scores.

So there seems to be no correlation between lower school tax rates for seniors and reduced test scores.

Many of the counties in Georgia offer a 100 percent elimination of property taxes for seniors and again they have as good, if not better test results and often operate on a lower per student cost than Troup County currently operates on.

I would never want to do anything that would have a negative impact on our most precious valuable resource, our kids.

My wife was an educator for 31 years, so I know of the challenges our schools face. I also know of the challenges some of our senior property owners face with our current cost of school tax.

I do believe though that if these other systems can reduce their tax rates, while maintaining or actually improving their test scores at or above the level of Troup County, our local officials can and should be able to do the same.

According to local tax officials, totally eliminating the school property tax for seniors would have a $3 million impact on the school system. That is a lot of dollars.

However, given a school budget of $118 million and a surplus of some 16 to 18 million, and the continued backing of SPLOST in Troup County, this reduction could be easily achieved with some minimal tightening of expenditures.

Any well-managed organization should be easily able to absorb a 2 to 3 percent impact to its budget, given the great economy we are currently experiencing.

In addition, given our recent expenditures to build several $15 million gyms and pay our local school leadership at a rate few if any of the citizens of Troup County could ever hope to attain, I believe it can be done.

Randy Atkins

LaGrange