A group of concerned senior citizens seeking exemption from local school taxes plan to attend Tuesday’s Bulloch County Commission meeting at 8:30 a.m. in the Bulloch County Annex.
Sen. Jack Hill, who said he was invited by area residents, also plans to attend the meeting and “listen to what my constituents have to say.”
A percentage of county taxes paid by property owners goes to the local school board. Some senior citizens are asking to be exempt from paying those taxes, as they do not have children in the school system.
Carolyn Akins notified the Statesboro Herald about the group planning to attend the meeting.
“We encourage everyone to attend this meeting to show support. With the recent increase in taxes, this is a major concern for senior citizens,” she said.
However, Bulloch County Tax Assessor John Scott said any exemption would only apply to residential property and not business, agricultural or other property.
And, in order to accomplish such an exemption, a local governing body would have to request it by resolution, and a state representative would have to introduce a bill in the state legislature, Scott said.
“The citizens would have to talk to the school board,” who would have to make the request to the legislature, he said. Then if it is approved by the school board, it would go to the governor to be signed, and returned back to the county for a referendum for voters to decide.
“Residents would have the ultimate say,” Scott said.
Bryan County exempts residents over 70 from paying taxes on residential property, he said.
Several counties in Georgia, including Bryan, Richmond, Gwinnett and Columbia counties, have a homestead exemption for senior citizens regarding school taxes. In Columbia County, the impact on the school system is $6.8 million, said Columbia County Tax Commissioner Wayne Bridges.
Seniors who turn 70 by Jan. 1 are exempt for that tax year, he said. The exemption applies to a home and three surrounding acres. “If you have a home on 50 acres, only the home and three acres are exempt.”
The impact on a county depends on the county’s tax digest, he said. “It is a lot of money but we are happy to do it for them.”
Herald reporter Holli Deal
Saxon may be reached at 912-489-9414.