UPDATE: Decatur homestead exemption bill passes the HouseThe Georgia State Capitol. Photo by Ken Lund, obtained via Wikimedia Commons
Decatur Superintendent David Dude says that Decatur’s bill expanding a homestead tax exemption for seniors has passed the House.
State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, said the bill is on the way to the governor’s desk. The exemption would still have to be approved by voters in a November referendum.
“The House leadership understood that asking its Republican Representatives to vote against a tax cut for Seniors was a bad idea,” Oliver said. “Particularly, when it was demanded by one Representative far from Decatur. And, Decatur folks were great advocates for our city! Thank you, Seniors!”
The haggling over a homestead tax exemption bill for Decatur seniors has gone down to the wire as the current Legislative session draws to a close.
State Rep. Beth Beskin, R-Atlanta, had obstructed the bill that will allow voters to decide whether to expand the Decatur school homestead tax exemption to seniors 65 and older. The exemption will save seniors $993 on every $100,000 of their home’s value, according to an estimate provided by Commissioner Fred Boykin in an email to constituents.
State Sen. Elena Parent said on March 15 the bill is in “high-level discussions.” The Legislature is currently on its 38th legislative day out of 40, Parent said.
In an email update to constituents, Parent said, “The City of Decatur Commission, the School Board, and its seniors are in favor of this bill, and I have advocated on their behalf and will continue to push to get this bill to the Governor’s desk.”
Last week, Beskin told Decaturish she was holding up Decatur’s bill in an attempt to gain support for her proposal for a similar homestead exemption in Atlanta. The Decatur School Board was furious about the situation.
The decision to seek the expanded homestead tax came as the School Board asked voters to approve a $75 million general obligation bond for school construction, which voters did in November by an overwhelming margin. The bond will result in a tax increase to pay off the debt. The legislation was proposed as an attempt to alleviate concerns about the tax burden on seniors.
In the email to his constituents, Commissioner Boykin said that Beskin would not meet with seniors who are urging her to drop her opposition to the bill.
“We tried to see Speaker Ralston in his office after they adjourned, but only got to talk to his Executive Office Assistant,” Boykin wrote. “She admitted that they had gotten plenty of emails from Decatur folks in support of the bill and she’d make sure to tell him there was a bunch of us wanting to see him.”