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tion. The commissioners explained that in response to the Board of Tax Assessors’ assessments of residential properties back in June, the group reached out to the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia to begin searching for alternatives to provide additional exemption opportunities for homeowners.
As evidenced by assessed values, the housing market in Montgomery County is experiencing a very high inflationary environment. In addition, large and small tracts of land are selling at much higher rates per acre. Chairman Leland Adams commented on this situation. “The inflation we are experiencing is impacting not only homeowners, but all classes of property owners. A farmer’s operating expenses are high right now. Shifting the tax load to small and large tracts favoring residential properties must be evaluated carefully. The commissioners are going to have to weigh every option carefully. Every county’s digest is different. One exemption option for one county may not be best for another county. As we weigh our options, we will make sure every property taxpayer is treated fairly,” he remarked.
Citizen Amie Vassey also spoke to the commissioners at the work session and regular meeting, held on July 17, about the option, which she also discovered during her research. “When we bring a problem to the commissioners, we should also bring a solution,” she emphasized. “ “You guys know that at the meeting on June 22, the Board of Tax Assessors threw our values out – they did the right thing. But, since then, the nagging question has been are we going to be in the same situation next year, and the answer is yes,” she told the group. “The good news is that we don’t have to be – there’s a permanent solution here. Whereas before, we were told the ball was in the Board of Tax Assessor’s court, and it was, it is now in the Board of Commissioners control. It has been tossed back.”
She said 36 counties in the state have this sort of exemption. “I was under the impression that Montgomery County had homestead exemption, but when I got to digging, guess what? We don’t,” she added. “The state of Georgia has homestead exemptions, and we just kick back off of that. Every county has the right through the state constitution to write their own and make their own homestead exemption.”
Vassey said that she had reviewed the legislation regarding neighboring Toombs County’s homestead exemption and found it to be benevolent and applicable within Montgomery County. She asked commissioners to consider the option.
If the commissioners choose to pursue this sort of exemption, a local act will have to be introduced in the Georgia General Assembly. Per the Georgia Constitution, exempting property from ad valorem taxation requires a twothirds vote of the general assembly. This is different from most local acts, which only require a simple majority vote.
If the local act calling for an exemption passes the General Assembly, it will require a local referendum on the issue. A successful referendum will create or adjust the tax exemption. The change in law does not apply until the following year after passage of any referendum that requires the General Assembly approval.