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Clearing up goals of the tax relief group

Dear Editor,

I am writing this as an open letter to the citizens of Troup County in hopes of clearing up some information made in recent letters to the editor and on social media. 

The Tax Relief for Troup County Leadership Board is composed of retired teachers, businessmen and businesswomen, and others with strong ties to the Troup County School System. My wife is a retired educator with 31 years of service.  For anyone to imply that this group wants to harm teachers or students is ludicrous. 

Here are some points to consider:

  • What we are asking for is a 4% impact to the school board’s budget. Yes, it is approximately $4 million dollars but, that could be offset very quickly and here is why:
  • The BOE revenue will increase by an additional $500,000 from tax abatements that are coming to an end for Kia and their suppliers. This amount will continue to grow over the next several years. 
  • The amount of funding the BOE receives from the state is at or near the highest level it has been in the past 10 years or more. 
  • The BOE pays Troup County 2.5% to collect its school taxes. Why can’t that percentage be renegotiated to 1%-1.5% or the process brought “in house” to save money? West Point currently collects its own taxes. 
  • The BOE has been in violation of the regulated maximums allowed by state law for reserves over the past five years. If those overages were rolled into the general budget, it would generate an increase of somewhere around 1 to 1.5 % to the general budget. 
  • If “just” these items were implemented, it would replace at least 3% of the 4% this tax cut is projected to cost.
  • I firmly believe after a review of the past five year’s budget numbers the other 1% could easily be found.

There is no correlation between dollars spent per child and test scores. Do a little research and you will find if there was we would be in the top 15% of schools in Georgia. Are we there? The answer is no.

Our schools offer no “competitive” advantage in recruiting families nor businesses because of our test scores and our tax rates. In reality, the only way we attract businesses of any size to locate here is by giving the “farm” away by means of tax abatements and bond financing.

Randy Atkins

LaGrange