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Co Commission Association Says Homeowners Will Pay
Thursday, 15 January 2009

(Editor's Note:  The following is a news release from the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia.)




            Atlanta, Ga. (January 15, 2009) – In the budget documents released yesterday by the Office of Planning and Budget, Governor Sonny Perdue has recommended not to reimburse local governments for the Homestead Tax Relief Grants (HTRG) that provided a nearly $429 million tax break for homeowners on their 2008 property tax bill.  For most homeowners, this credit amounts to a $200 - $300 savings each.  This credit was applied to their 2008 property tax bills, so homeowners are likely to receive a bill for the amount of their credit if this recommendation is approved by the Georgia General Assembly.

“We certainly understand that the State must balance its budget, but we are greatly troubled by the decision to eliminate the funding for a credit on property taxes that homeowners have already received,” said Jan Tankersley, a Bulloch County Commissioner and President of the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG).  “Local governments also are facing budget challenges, and this leaves us with a gaping hole that can only be filled by sending bills in the amount of the credit to our homeowners or further reducing county services."

            Homeowners have benefitted from HTRG since it was initiated by Governor Roy Barnes and established through legislation in 1999.  Local governments calculate the value of the tax credit based on the combined millage rate (county, city and Board of Education) multiplied by a set value ($8,000 for 2008).  The credit is subtracted from property tax bills and then local governments file for reimbursement through the Georgia Department of Revenue.  A line on the property tax bill clearly states that this credit comes from the State of Georgia, not local governments.  The benefits of this program are entirely for the homeowner; local governments do not receive any of the funds.

            “At a time when we continue to hear about record home foreclosures and people struggling to make ends meet, it is hard to believe that homeowners won’t get the benefit from this credit that was approved through the legislative process last year,” said Jerry Griffin, Executive Director of ACCG.  “I don’t think that most counties will have any other choice than to send new bills to their homeowners for the amount of the 2008 property tax credit.”

            The Georgia General Assembly appropriated the funds for the 2008 HTRG credits through the General Appropriations Act in March 2008, which the Governor signed.  Governor Perdue suspended the reimbursement in August 2008 based on the state’s projected budget shortfall.  His budget recommendations call for not reimbursing the counties for the credit already issued to homeowners for last year’s property taxes and eliminating the program.

            “The elimination of this tax credit for homeowners in DeKalb County totals $40.9 million,” said Burrell Ellis, DeKalb County Chief Executive Officer and one of ACCG’s Board of Managers.  “In these tough times, we cannot absorb this amount into our operating budget.  Our homeowners are on the losing end of this recommendation.”


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