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School tax exemption for seniors may be cut

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Local lawmakers are considering ending the Richmond County school tax exemption for those 65 or older, although those now getting the tax break might get to keep it.

The issue was among several brought up during a Thursday breakfast meeting between school officials and the legislative delegation. It was called to focus priorities when the General Assembly convenes in two months and tight money becomes a factor.

Richmond County School Superintendent Dana Bedden said there might be an arrangement in which those who turn 65 would have to pay local school taxes based on certain factors. Those already 65 and receiving the exemption would be "grandfathered" in, he said.

Dr. Bedden said a person's income could be one factor for not being exempted from the tax. Some board members, however, said the person's income shouldn't factor in, saying it should instead be based on the person's home value because that's how taxes are assessed.

School board attorney Pete Fletcher said any move would require a referendum and the Legislature's support.

Rep. Quincy Murphy, D-Augusta -- who attended the meeting with state Rep. Hardie Davis, D-Gracewood, Barbara Sims, R-Augusta, and Rep. Wayne Howard, D-Augusta -- said Thursday that any proposal should include the grandfathering idea, "and let's work from there."

Board member Frank Dolan quickly cautioned that tackling such a topic would be "a gigantic firestorm."

"Good luck. They'll kill you," he said, looking to delegation members, referring to how the public would likely react.

Kathleen Ernce, 63, executive director and advocacy programs director for the Senior Citizens Council of Greater Augusta and the CSRA, said such a plan would hurt the many seniors who already are having difficulty paying for increased health care and other costs.

"I was looking forward to not paying school tax," Ms. Ernce said after hearing the proposal, adding, "In order to meet daily needs even, the seniors are having to do without medication or do without food. And now with the possibility of having to pay an additional tax to what they already owe would really be a hardship."

Paul Reed and Jill McKee, both parents of Cross Creek High students, also said Thursday that they don't like the idea.

"I don't think that's right," said Ms. McKee, 45. "I think they (seniors) have paid enough."

"I just turned 50 and I think I've paid enough," said Mr. Reed with a laugh.

Dr. Bedden said county officials have told him such exemptions represent at least $7 million, and that amount is only increasing. He said that if that $7 million had been available to the school system this year, there would have been no discussion about potential property tax increases, and teacher furloughs likely wouldn't have occurred.

Delegation members asked the school board to first approve a resolution in favor of such a change before getting their support. Board members agreed to send the issue to their financial committee, and board president Marion Barnes said it would also be discussed at the school board's Dec. 11 retreat. After that, he said, another meeting would occur with delegation members.

Also at Thursday's meeting, Dr. Bedden said he had heard more state cuts to education are coming in January "and the word 'furlough' is coming out again." He asked the delegation to help "maintain the funding level as we try to stabilize and get past the point where we can recover."

This year, he said, his system was faced with a $25 million cut. And last school year, officials said Richmond County schools were dealt a $13 million midyear cut by the state.

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 828-3851 or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com

HOW IT WORKS

Currently, those 65 and older in Richmond County can apply to be exempt from all local school taxes.

That resident, though, must occupy the home he or she receives the exemption on and must turn 65 as of Jan. 1 to get the exemption for that year.

The person must apply with the Augusta Tax Commissioner's office by April 1 for the exemption to credit that year.

Source: Augusta Tax Commissioner's office

Comments (55) Add comment
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omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 11/06/09 - 01:55 am
0
0
attracting people to live in

attracting people to live in the city of Augusta by lowering crime, raising the standards of our school, cleaning the streets, and showing that our city can properly maintain what we have.. should be the first step in rebuilding our tax-base...

justus4
113
Points
justus4 11/06/09 - 03:58 am
0
0
The facts about this proposal
Unpublished

The facts about this proposal will become distorted by U know who...it will become a "rallying cry" with all the bells & whistles and TV footage i.e. some old person being asked: How do U feel about this issue and then, the violins. That media company for the RCBOE had better get out in front of this, because the printing operations & word writers will transform this issue into farce. This one gotta be controlled.

keysandlocks
0
Points
keysandlocks 11/06/09 - 04:53 am
0
0
The BOE is looking for "easy"

The BOE is looking for "easy" sources of income. Never mind looking at high administrative salaries. Never mind consolidating administrative positions. Never mind cutting "waste" money spent on pie-in-the-sky projects and other areas. Just get the money form senior citizens who have not had a child in school for years. It is the same old sad Richmond County story, just a different chapter.

avidreader
3567
Points
avidreader 11/06/09 - 05:09 am
0
0
So, let me get this straight.

So, let me get this straight. When I'm 65 I shouldn't have to help support the public school student who may be my doctor when I'm 85?

downgoesfrazier
0
Points
downgoesfrazier 11/06/09 - 05:48 am
0
0
there cannot be two sets of

there cannot be two sets of standards for taxpayers
enough is enough

Just_Visiting
0
Points
Just_Visiting 11/06/09 - 06:23 am
0
0
I agree! For those of us who

I agree! For those of us who have no children yet have been paying into the system all these years, where is my refund?

I've been paying for that couple down the street who has 6 kids, sucking on welfare and assistance.

ColCo
927
Points
ColCo 11/06/09 - 06:32 am
0
0
The RCBOE is wasting their

The RCBOE is wasting their time, their proposal will not get out of committee for a vote, so they had better have a backup plan ready.

specialist
209
Points
specialist 11/06/09 - 06:52 am
0
0
BEDDEN: Give me a red pen

BEDDEN: Give me a red pen and your budget. I'll find 7 million dollars to cut. Probably a heck of a lot more. You won't like it, cause I'll get into your pet spending. What's wrong with you? You have been doing fine up to now. Now you have turned into a typical "liberAL".

JohnQPublic
5
Points
JohnQPublic 11/06/09 - 06:56 am
0
0
Just Visiting, I agree. I

Just Visiting, I agree. I have never had any children in the school system here and I am over 55. Why should I have to pay - let alone pay extra? People who have kids in school need to pay a per child tax. You had the little darlings, you pay for their education. The senior citizens have enough dumped on them!

JohnQPublic
5
Points
JohnQPublic 11/06/09 - 07:03 am
0
0
Oh well. When I was in grade

Oh well. When I was in grade school there were two grades in the same classroom. Pack 'em in like sardines. Most of them aren't paying any attention anyway. We all survived, they will too. Bedden needs to squeeze the buffalo on that nickel he calls a budget! His bonus was a year's income for some seniors. Bedden should try living on that before he tries to squeeze survival money out of the seniors!

joekm46
0
Points
joekm46 11/06/09 - 07:04 am
0
0
Bad move!! Those 65 and older

Bad move!! Those 65 and older should remain tax exempt from school tax's.. What about all the new school buses that pamper to the high school stundents, when I was in High school if you lived less than a mile from the school you walked! Talk about wasteful spending even if the federal government picked up the tab? I hope the voting tax payers are smart enough to remember this come the next election.... Just more socialist ideology... Vote Dana Beden out!!!!

corgimom
38720
Points
corgimom 11/06/09 - 08:05 am
0
0
You can pay it in school

You can pay it in school taxes or you can pay it in welfare and prison costs. What is better?

JustMe
0
Points
JustMe 11/06/09 - 08:06 am
0
0
It is not Dr. Bedden's fault

It is not Dr. Bedden's fault that Federal funding has been cut. If we paid a per student family tax, all those students would still have to be paid for and our tax dollars would still do it. Basing it on income is a better way than on the value of your house. Seniors may have a great house but it doesn't bring in money to them. Avid reader I like your style. For those of you that keep talking about the extreme saleries, have you checked them against the other counties, cities and states? Heck if you want to save money hire me...I will do the job for 20.00 an hour and that's exactly what you will get, a $ 20 an hour employee who will not know what he is doing. I say hoorah to Dr. Bedden!!!!!

lifelongresidient
0
Points
lifelongresidient 11/06/09 - 08:10 am
0
0
dear key, just look at the

dear key, just look at the number of projects already started, or are porposed by BOE, most are all athletic venues for schools that have low graduation rates...b-ball gyms, running tracks all the while there are not enuff textbooks/supplies for students in some classes, low graduation rates. all high schools other than johnson/davidson failing to meet ayp...the dumbing down of the curriculum in order to increase graduation rates..("hey ms. cain" one other thing over 1500 students who failed the crct over 60% were still promoted anyway how about giving the poor property owners and explaination on that one.....), poor discipline, a refusal to institute a uniform policy for fear it may hurt the students "expressive side" so we are stuck watching students walk around with their pants down by their knees

HotFoot
17
Points
HotFoot 11/06/09 - 08:29 am
0
0
Why should those over 65 be

Why should those over 65 be exempt? Nowhere I have lived has that been the case, aside from Richmond Co. Decent schools stabilize an area and maintain property values, both of which are critical to seniors, whose net worth is frequently tied up in their homes. I agree with corgimom.

dani
13
Points
dani 11/06/09 - 08:33 am
0
0
The Obama administration is

The Obama administration is offering incentives of several thousand dollars for purchase of new homes, but the elderly has to lose a home due to local "O's". What an upside down country the powers-that-be have managed to make of our nation.
Obama says no COL for security security recipients, but...there will be a an increase on these same people of about $40. 00 a MONTH for Medicare premiums. Now locals are following the Obama example.>

WW1949
19
Points
WW1949 11/06/09 - 08:34 am
0
0
Still paying 2800.00 per year

Still paying 2800.00 per year in school tax and no children while the person in District 1 pays not much of anything and has a house full of children. Where is the fairness and they want more from me. I have paid enough. Time for the females with no husband to close their legs and for the males to get fixed who keep fathering these children.

justthefacts
25478
Points
justthefacts 11/06/09 - 08:34 am
0
0
corgimom, pretty sad state

corgimom, pretty sad state when that's your choices.

imho1
0
Points
imho1 11/06/09 - 08:39 am
0
0
Seniors should pay full taxes

Seniors should pay full taxes like everyone else. To say if you don't have children you shouldn't pay school taxes, is like saying that unless your house catches on fire; you shouldn't have to pay for fire protection. Good schools benefit the entire community, not only the people with children.

marie21
5
Points
marie21 11/06/09 - 08:46 am
0
0
I have never used Richmond

I have never used Richmond County schools for my two children. However, I do not have a problem paying my school tax because our schools are available to me if I want them. I do think that those over 65 should NOT have to pay the school tax. They've already paid their school tax through the years and they are probably retired on a much lower income. They do not have school age children. This will be a big mistake if they make them pay.

terry67
0
Points
terry67 11/06/09 - 08:51 am
0
0
Time for the females with no

Time for the females with no husband to close their legs and for the males to get fixed who keep fathering these children.
- Nailed that one! It's been way past time to shut down "welfare moms" who make babies just to get a check! Same for the men who "screw and run" Add all these ILLEGAL ppl who "NO HABLA" plus a large dose of do nothing admin idiots and you get what we have now - POOR EDUCATION at a HIGH COST. And don't get me started on the total lack of disipline these days!

Tell it like it is
35
Points
Tell it like it is 11/06/09 - 08:51 am
0
0
More unverified headlines to

More unverified headlines to sell papers.

noils
5
Points
noils 11/06/09 - 08:55 am
0
0
How do you raise the

How do you raise the standards in schools without raising tax revenue? The wingnuts solution is to demand that teachers work longer hours for the same money while administrators take a pay cut. By the way, they want the kids in school three more hours a day wearing freshly pressed family provided uniforms.

Unfortunately our children have no vote and thus lack power. Therefore they will get the short end of the educational stick once again from the tax-protesting teabaggers. Property taxes are regressive which is fine with the right. As a percent of income it keeps those taxes high on the middle class and low on the wealthy. Now you know why they want a flat income tax.

marie21
5
Points
marie21 11/06/09 - 08:58 am
0
0
Terry67, very crude but

Terry67, very crude but completely right!!! They want us to pay for their endless babies to be educated and now we might have to pay MORE taxes for their health care!!!! Where does it end?

corgimom
38720
Points
corgimom 11/06/09 - 09:00 am
0
0
It used to be in the old days

It used to be in the old days if you didn't get an education, you went to work on a farm or did manual labor. The farms are gone, and what few are left are mechanized. Machines have replaced the manual laborer. Welfare and prison are the only choices today for people without an education. Very few places will hire you without a diploma any more.

LaTwon
1
Points
LaTwon 11/06/09 - 09:03 am
0
0
the welfare state is

the welfare state is imploding. the taxfeeders are sucking the dog dry. r c is toast................

marie21
5
Points
marie21 11/06/09 - 09:03 am
0
0
Getting an education is not

Getting an education is not the issue here. Anybody in Richmond County, Georgia has the opportunity to get a high school education. There is no excuse for not having a diploma. If they flunk out that is not our fault and we shouldn't have to pay out of our paychecks for their bad decisions.

justthefacts
25478
Points
justthefacts 11/06/09 - 09:08 am
0
0
corgimom, someone should tell

corgimom, someone should tell the 15 million undocumented workers that there are no jobs for the under educated folks anymore.

creolechick
76
Points
creolechick 11/06/09 - 09:10 am
0
0
I don't know when this

I don't know when this country will wake up and realize our current tax system is NOT working. Honest tax paying citizens keeps getting hit with increasing property tax & all the exemptions are being taken away. Meanwhile those who don't pay income taxes keep getting away with it. Like illegal immigrants, drug dealers, thieves, movie pirates and contractors who claim they don't have any employees and pay them in cash. None of these pay any income tax but are the ones who benefit from all the programs paid for by taxpayers like food stamps, welfare, housing and soon free healthcare. Isn't anyone else fed up with this?

disssman
6
Points
disssman 11/06/09 - 09:13 am
0
0
Noils are you saying "if its

Noils are you saying "if its broke just trrow money at it till it starts working again"? I say cut out all teachers making over 100,000 a year with benefits, and hire new blood who recently graduated. It is obvious the old blood dosen't care enough to perform.

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