Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Legislators intend to fix the equalized HOST

In 2015, the General Assembly passed House Bill 215, which authorized a vote in 2016 for a new, "equalized" homestead option sales tax (HOST) and special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) that would alter the formula for a local sales tax for infrastructure improvements and property tax credit offsets. The legislature also approved HB 596, authorized a vote to extend the existing property tax "freeze," which locks in homeowner values for the purposes of county tax billing. HB 215 included language that said the freeze would be suspended if an equalized HOST were in effect. Realizing that this would increase homeowners' tax bills, officials have decided not to put the sales tax measure on the ballot. HB 596 will appear on November ballots as regularly scheduled to extend the freeze.

Members of the DeKalb legislative delegation is saying that they will work quickly in the 2017 session to correct HB 215 for a vote. Crossroads News has the details on the legislators' plans:
DeKalb delegation to change law hampering county SPLOST
The DeKalb delegation to the Georgia General Assembly is preparing to fix a state law that derailed a DeKalb County government Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax in July.
The DeKalb Board of Commissioners was preparing to vote to place a 1 percent sales tax referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot to fund road paving and other infrastructure improvements when it discovered that House Bill 596 would have eliminated property tax relief for homeowners.
The SPLOST would have generated $551 million over five years with $377.7 million going to the county and the rest to the cities.
Now commissioners like Larry Johnson, who represents District 3 and is the BOC’s presiding officer, are pushing for the law to be amended. Johnson said more than $200 million will be spent in South DeKalb if voters approve the SPLOST.
“That is money that will fix our roads and improve our parks and libraries,” he said. “We need that money to make improvements.”
State Sen. Emanuel Jones, who attended a Sept. 20 SPLOST update meeting hosted by Johnson, said he is working to change the law in the early weeks of the 2017 legislative session so that the referendum can be on the March 2017 ballot. “It’s an accelerated time line but we can do it,” Jones told the meeting...

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