Larry Cox

Larry Cox

CONYERS — A bipartisan group of Rockdale residents is working to revise the county’s 1% Homestead Option Sales Tax legislation in order to provide greater tax relief to county homeowners.

The Rockdale Voter group is seeking signatures on a petition that would make it possible to call for a referendum to suspend the current HOST and implement a revised Equalized HOST that would require that 99% of HOST collections be used to roll back property taxes and the remaining 1% used to defray administrative costs of the county.

Under the current HOST legislation, the county must use at least 80% of HOST revenues for homestead property tax relief.

House Bill 1102, approved in the General Assembly last year, makes it possible for counties that have a HOST to amend the HOST through a referendum. The Rockdale Voter group is working to obtain the number of signatures needed on a petition to call for that referendum. The group will need 10% of voters registered to vote in the 2018 General Election to sign the petition in order to qualify for a referendum.

Larry Cox, who along with Ken Holmes founded The Rockdale Voter, said the group plans to begin a push for signatures next year in order to have the required number of signatures by June 2021. He said the group plans to have the referendum placed on the November ballot, coinciding with municipal elections.

Rockdale and DeKalb counties are the only two in Georgia that have a HOST. DeKalb approved an EHOST in 2017. Cox said the passage of EHOST in DeKalb County resulted in significant savings for homeowners, and The Rockdale Voter is seeking to do the same in Rockdale.

“We wanted to make this change because we keep seeing taxes go up in Rockdale County, and we had a good example to look at in DeKalb County once they converted to ther EHOST,” he said. “Their citizens have recognized record savings since they went to this system, and we firmly believe Rockdale citizens will recognize those same savings.”

Rockdale commissioners voted in August to reduce the 2020 millage rate; however, due to increases in property tax assessments, the county still saw a 4.19% increase in tax collections.

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I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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