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    Thomas Porter


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    Riley OConnor

    In recent weeks, the focus has been on “what can we do with the money?” until someone took a look at the original legislation and discovered this. I like Fran Millar, who has expressed that the problem will be corrected during the next General Assembly in January 2017. Sorry, but this is bad legislation and waiting until after it has passed to fix it isn’t reasonable. Nobody is safe when the General Assembly is in session and there’s a lot of stuff that gets swept under the carpet in the closing days of the session. Just don’t pass a bad piece of legislation in the first place.

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    Bill Lowe

    Not sure if this was always in the bill or if it was an addition/change to the bill. No matter what the case may be, all legislation should have a history of changes to the bill with the person making the changes having their identity tagged to each change. Too many things get inserted/removed/altered with no accountability. With accountability attached, less of this horse cadoodle would be happening. This would make it easier for the legislators to review any changes to the document before it is presented, and in some cases, as k why someone would insert language that is counterproductive to the idea of the original bill.

    Of course, the bill could have been written with this exact escape clause in mind to be pulled out if need be. If someone was not playing ball or the games continued to be played with the project list for instance. Take the avoidance of infrastructure improvements like Fire Stations located within cities as an example.

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    I’m confused about what E-HOST would mean to the property owner.

    In the previous BP article, the explanation about E-HOST is as follows:

    “Recognizing the dependency on the HOST revenue stream, in the 2015 Legislative Session, Georgia Lawmakers passed House Bill 215 which enables voters to “reform” DeKalb’s existing HOST structure through a referendum. This new “reformed” HOST is called E-HOST, or Equalized Homestead Option Sales Tax, designed to allocate 100% of HOST revenues to subsidize county and city property taxes on homesteads.”

    It sounds like we’d still be getting the Homestead benefit, it’s just that the funds will be distributed differently? Can someone explain what this means to me as an owner?

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    Russell Carleton

    There’s a penny sales tax in Dekalb County that goes into the big HOST bucket. 80 percent of that is earmarked for property tax relief. 20 percent for distributing money for capital projects.

    Let’s look at the property tax relief piece first. The county decides how much of a “discount” it can grant on property taxes to homestead exemption holders, based on receipts from the sales tax. In 2015, it was 44 percent. So, that means that you get 44 percent off your county tax bill thanks to HOST. The wrinkle in there is that the county applies that discount equally across all the lines of the county portion of the tax bill. But that creates an imbalance. In the unincorporated area, I pay into the police line of the county taxes, and benefit from the 44 percent HOST discount. in a city that has its own PD (like Brookhaven), I wouldn’t pay into the police line for the county, but would instead pay city taxes (which then pay the police), and you can’t apply the HOST discount to city taxes. It means that when it comes to benefiting from that 44 percent markdown, unincorporated residents benefit more than city-dwellers.

    There are two lines of the county tax bill that everyone pays, which are the county General Operations fund and the Hospital fund. The new E-HOST would restrict the HOST discount to being applied to those two lines only, so that city or unincorporated, everyone would derive the same benefit from the HOST property tax relief.

    But wait, there’s more. There’s that 20 percent that now goes to capital projects. What currently happens is that because cities get a little short-changed by the property tax relief, they get first dibs on that particular pot of money. (These are “equalization” payments) and the county gets what’s left over. Depending on the city, that can be a check for a few million dollars, which generally goes to road paving. The new system would delete those capital distributions, and instead plow that money into the property tax relief fund, which would in turn be spread out more equally across unincorporated and city residents alike.

    But since those HOST payments have formed a good chunk of several city budgets over the past few years, there would be a hole in the budget. Cities could (correctly) claim that because the county portion of the tax bill would have gone down, they can raise their sticker price millage rate to compensate and that it would be largely cost-neutral, and raise the money for capital that way.

    Then there’s part 2 of this, which proposes that instead, an additional penny sales tax would be levied, for the purposes of funding capital improvements. The equalization and the additional penny sales tax are yoked together such that both must pass for either one to take effect. Looking only at the changes in HOST, what it does to your bottom line depends on where you live, although it looks like it wouldn’t be a big shift either way. The rest is agreeing to a new sales tax to fund capital projects.

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    Or, the legislators could just actually READ the bills they are passing.

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    So tonight The BOC voted down the SPLOST, and we can all rest easy!

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    Thanks SO MUCH Russell. I never would have gotten that from all the articles posted.

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    Eric Robert

    Glad this got killed. Don’t know why the County wants to take on more real estate. With the new cities taking over some of the operations they should be reducing their administrative space. As to tax relief, HOST doesn’t apply to the bulk of the tax bill which is the School taxes. And yes it doesn’t apply to the city taxes but that is a very small part of the tax bill. But a bump of the HOST tax relief from 80% to 100% isn’t worth an extra 1% sales tax. And living in Brookhaven I think we spend too much money on paving. For example all of West Nancy Creek and all of Brynwyck didn’t need to be repaved. Sure its nice and helps people to drive through the neighborhood faster but its not worth a 1% sales tax increase.

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    Eric your elected officials in charge of new cities are watching, ah, I mean screwing you. Maybe you need to teach your elected how to read?

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