Thursday, February 4, 2010

Latest Press Release from Brandon for Athens Committee

We hope we're not going to duke it out with them,” stated Georgia State Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers.

First of all, I agree with the Republican leader that “property tax should be fair [and] transparent.” The legislation proposed by Rogers can be seen as a good idea from one perspective, but I disagree that overhauling the system is the answer.
I support the aspect of the bill that promotes transparency by clarifying what assessors are allowed to take into account when deciding the fair market value of a property. I also support the provision that will allow people to pay their taxes on an installment plan.

We're concerned, however, about assessment provisions limiting the ability of local governments to raise necessary funds. Athens-Clarke County has some of the lowest effective taxes of comparable cities in Georgia. Any attempt to further limit us from raising revenue seriously endangers our abilities to provide the services that our residents demand of us. As William James once said, “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” Hypothetically speaking, a bill that would help thirty percent and hurt seventy percent is a bill that I would personally describe as backwards, careless, and selfish logic. If local governments are forced to cut basic funding for public services, it will drop the quality of life significantly, which will create more problems than solutions.

Majority Leader Chip Rogers also openly admitted that the measure “could backfire in a booming market,” and he says his ultimate goal remains eliminating all property taxes. To the point, there are no provisions listed that would help this bill adapt to a booming market. Furthermore, if the plan is enacted, we will watch our public services slowly lose funding because of a statewide shortfall in local revenues, thus proving the bill is, overall, regressive. Rogers admits that his ultimate goal is to see the property tax eliminated. This would cause a large increase in sales tax, which would likely destroy Georgia communities, especially our valued towns and small cities, one-by-one, while steering clear of the Atlanta area.

Georgians take pride in our traditions of home rule and strong local government. We cannot afford to hurt the bedrock of our state--our local governments-by passing this legislation or any other, such as the often-proposed and often-defeated TABOR law, that limits local officials’ ability to do what’s best for their people



Brandon Shinholser is a candidate for Mayor of Athens, GA. His website can be found at http://www.brandon2010.com/.

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