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TCSS votes to provide tax relief for some seniors

The Troup County Board of Education has passed a resolution aimed at providing property tax relief for senior citizens in Troup County with an income below a certain amount.

The school board voted to propose legislation to local lawmakers to say if a resident is 65 years old or older, and their home is valued at $100,000 or less, and the household income is less than $40,000, they would pay nothing in school property taxes.

Additionally, the measure would extend to only two acres of property.

For those who have a home valued higher than $100,000 or have multiple acres of land, they will still have to pay an amount in school taxes but will see a significant decrease.

The legislation will now be forwarded to Georgia representatives Randy Nix, Robert Trammell, Vance Smith and senators Randy Robertson and Matt Brass. The legislators will take the resolution to their respective chambers for passage and then the measure will be placed on the ballot for a vote in May.

According to TCSS Interim Chief Financial Officer Don Miller, this will have a $1,751,970 impact on the school system. He said the proposal would affect about 2,500 seniors in Troup County.

However, many of the senior citizens in the crowd said that the number of 2,500 was high. They asked for the board to verify its numbers before voting Thursday night.

Bill Gregory said at the end of the day, everybody wants the best education for the children of Troup County. However, a large number of senior citizens feel the numbers driving the option voted on by the board were wrong.

“Our belief is that to 2,500 home estimate of owner-occupied homes making less than $40,000 is high. “Before you vote, please verify the data. We will gladly share our information on this to reach a consensus with you or anyone else who has data.”

He said it wasn’t the goal of the Tax Relief for Troup County Property Owners Group to make an enemy out of the school system or the administration.

“Our enemy is the tax,” Gregory said.

Miller said he spoke with Troup County Tax Commissioner Shane Frailey, and he agreed with their numbers of 2,500 senior citizens being impacted.

Board Chairman Kirk Hancock said Thursday’s vote is just the start of a journey on an issue that the board was made aware of in September.

“I think everyone has compassion in making sure we can address the seniors that are on a fixed income and truly need,” he said.

Hancock said given the data available, he called the proposed resolution a “good-faith” effort to address seniors in need.

“As it’s implemented, and we have better data, it is something that can be revisited and should be because things change,” he said.

School Board Member Cathy Hunt said she believes public servants should strive to take better care of senior citizens.

“I believe that our proposal takes a healthy step to move in that direction,” she said.

However, she said she felt it was time to find common ground.

“First, no matter how much one believes that multi-million budget cuts won’t affect our students and students, or no matter how much one believes that they will destroy the system, no mere mortal here can make such an all-or-notion claim with absolute authority,” Hunt said.

She said she’s not willing to go for a total exemption because there are too many variables in funding from year to year to “throw caution to the wind.”