Wednesday, March 9, 2016

City Schools of Decatur Homestead Exemption Tabled By Georgia House of Representatives – Your Action Needed

By Linda Harris

On Tuesday, March 8, 2016 four of the five City of Decatur’s homestead tax exemption bills passed the Georgia House of Representatives.  With the previous adoption by the Georgia Senate on February 11, 2016, those four separate pieces of legislation will move forward for the Governor’s signature.  However, SB 343 that provided the most significant tax relief from school taxes to citizens 65 and older has been delayed to a later date upon a motion by Representative Beth Beskin of Fulton County.

Representative Mary Margaret Oliver who represents part of the City of Decatur challenged the motion arguing that Rep. Beskin’s efforts to punish Decatur’s older citizens based on Atlanta’s refusal to grant similar relief to seniors was pure partisan politics.  “I am hopeful we will be able to get over the partisan obstacle created solely by Representative Beskin. I believe the Republican leadership will ultimately be supportive of local control to support the success of the Decatur school system and good management,” said Rep. Oliver.  Rep. Beskin stated to Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett that her motion to table had nothing to do with Decatur or the legislation itself.

“The City of Decatur and the City Schools of Decatur appreciate all of the efforts of Decatur legislators who have worked hard to get these bills passed including Senator Elena Parent and Representatives Mary Margaret Oliver, Howard Mosby, Rahn Mayo and Karla Drenner,” said Mayor Garrett.  “Our delegation members understand the need for property tax relief, particularly for our seniors, and I hope the Republican leadership will also understand our position and consider the merits and value to the citizens of Decatur of the senior homestead tax exemptions.”  The homestead exemption legislation was supported by the Decatur City Commission and the Decatur Board of Education who were acting with the support of the residents of the City of Decatur, including members of the Lifelong Community Advisory Board, a very active group of senior homeowners and the business community.

“It is unsettling that legislation designed by Decatur’s elected officials for the benefit of Decatur’s senior citizens, that would have no impact on anyone other than Decatur residents, has been met with opposition,” said Board of Education Chair Annie Caiola, who added, “We encourage our residents to join us in voicing these sentiments to the Republican leadership. This also happened last year when Decatur’s proposed senior exemptions failed in the eleventh hour due to similar unprecedented maneuvers.  It is our sincere hope that CSD’s homestead exemption legislation will be quickly put back on track to pass.”

To voice your opinion about the City Schools of Decatur homestead exemption, please contact Rep. Beth Beskin (; Rep. Jan Tankersley (;  Rep. Jon Burns (; Rep. Matt Ramsey (;  Speaker of the House David Ralston (; and, copy Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (

Make sure they know that SB 343 would provide tax relief to senior property owners and that it is local legislation supported by the City Schools of Decatur, the Decatur City Commission and all of the members of the General Assembly that represent the City of Decatur.

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