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State legislature passes Decatur schools senior homestead tax exemption

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State legislature passes Decatur schools senior homestead tax exemption

Elizabeth Wilson School Support Center, City Schools of Decatur. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Decatur, GA — The Georgia General Assembly passed the bill that updates City Schools of Decatur’s senior homestead tax exemption on March 29. 

On the last day of the legislative session, the local calendar passed by a vote of 163-2. 

Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates) was excused from the vote. Reps. Saira Draper (D-Atlanta) and Angela Moore (D-Stonecrest) did not vote on the bills, and all other members of the DeKalb House delegation voted for the bill. Two Republican lawmakers voted against the local calendar.

Senate Bill 288 updates CSD’s senior homestead tax exemption to increase the income cap and extend the exemption for an additional five years. The bill now heads to Gov. Brian Kemp. Upon his signature, the bill will be on the ballot as a referendum in November.  

“That is so exciting,” Decatur School Board Chair James Herndon said. “I’m genuinely thrilled for our seniors, particularly that 65-70 income-based [exemption]. That can make a big difference for people.” 

The school board did not make any changes to the S-6 exemption, which provides a reduction of $200,000 of assessed home value ($400,000 appraised value) for homeowners age 70 and older without an income cap. 

For the S-5 exemption, the board increased the dollar amount of the household adjusted income for seniors ages 65-69 from $53,000 to $62,000 for the S-5 exemption. The board maintained the exemption of $200,000 of assessed home value ($400,000 appraised value).

CSD’s redistricting bill, Senate Bill 287, also passed the state House on March 27. SB 287 will also head to the governor. 

Decatur has two election districts that are the same for the school board and the city commission.

For the city commission, redistricting is done by amending the city’s charter. The commission approved the new election districts at in November 2022, meeting and the change went into effect on Jan. 1. District 2 now extends to cover more of downtown Decatur.

City Manager Andrea Arnold previously explained that there was enough of a difference in the population of the city commission and school board districts to require redistricting. The election districts have to meet the one person-one vote requirement. 

The new districts have a total deviation of 0.16%, or a difference of 20 people.

“With the proposal with extending District 2 east along the existing boundaries of East Ponce de Leon [Avenue] and East Howard [Avenue], starting at North McDonough [Street] going over to North Candler [Street],” Arnold previously said. “Essentially, we’re moving 701 people from District 1 into District 2. The District 1 population would end up at 12,474 and the District 2 would end up at 12,454. I’m not sure we can get a whole lot closer…to the ideal district population.”

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