CONYERS — The Rockdale Voter Group is spearheading an effort to exempt some of the county’s senior citizens from the maintenance and operations portion of school property taxes.

The group is asking residents to sign an online petition supporting the tax exemption by visiting therockdalevoter.com. The organization is proposing that the exemption would apply to residents 67 years of age or older.

According to The Rockdale Voter Group, increasing property values along with increasing property tax rates are pricing seniors — many of whom are on fixed incomes — out of their homes or forcing them to cut spending on vital medicines, food or other expenses. The group points out that seniors will continue to pay the 1% Special Purpose Local Option Sales tax for education even if the exemption is granted.

In order for a senior citizen exemption to be allowed, a petition with a sufficient number of signatures will be submitted to Rockdale County's legislative delegation for introduction into the General Assembly. An exemption referendum could then be placed on a ballot for Rockdale County voters.

A number of counties in Georgia already offer some type of age-related exemption on school taxes. In addition, Georgia mandates a school property tax exemption for homeowners age 62 or older whose household income is $10,000 or less. Eligible taxpayers receive a $10,000 exemption from the assessed value of their primary residence for property taxes levied by any school district.

Several counties in the state — including DeKalb, Gwinnett, Cobb, Clayton and Fulton — offer a 100% exemption for seniors although all but Clayton place an income limit on the exemption.

Editor's note: This article was amended on Sept. 22, 2021 to reflect a change in the process of getting a referendum on the ballot.

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Editor

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.

(1) comment

owen641

This petition to excuse all senior citizens, including the very rich citizens from paying school taxes, is irresponsible. Rockdale would lose out on a lot of money for schools and the school system will suffer when the rich, again, gets away with murder. Most counties in Georgia have placed income limits on not paying school property taxes for seniors. The rich have very EXPENSIVE homes in Rockdale and this petition would exempt them from paying school property taxes -- when they can truly afford it. I should know. I voted "no" on this petition on their website. I would have voted for this petition if it said "All seniors 67 and older would be exempt from paying school property taxes each year unless their annual household income is $75,000 or more in 2022 and income limit is increased 1% each year thereafter."

Back in November 2013, Rockdale citizens voted to increase school taxes during the election. Why? Because they were concerned about the quality of their school system because Rockdale at one time had the one of the best. Without the school tax income, the schools will suffer and so in turn will the neighborhoods surrounding them. I look at other counties' responsible efforts to keep their schools updated and upgraded without sacrificing higher taxes for those who can't afford it and allowing those who can afford it to pay it. Try traveling to other counties and look at their new school systems or their new government offices. How do they do it? Why can't Rockdale do the same?

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