Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Glynn Senior Citizens Ask for Tax Relief; Many Say They Pay Too Much for Schools

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Glynn Senior Citizens Ask for Tax Relief; Many Say They Pay Too Much for Schools

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson, Times-Union staff writer

BRUNSWICK -- Facing a crowd made up almost exclusively of senior citizens, Glynn County commissioners heard one side of the argument Tuesday night for exempting those 65 and older from property taxes for schools.

"I could use some tax relief,'' Lucille Higdon said during a public hearing in a sweltering Jane Macon Middle School gym.

A widow for 35 years, Higdon said she hasn't had a child in school for 28 years but still pays for education.

Commissioner Mark Bedner has proposed changing the law to provide the tax relief. The school board has already agreed to some relief by going along with a County Commission demand that the board restore $2,000 homestead exemptions.

Citing the need for building upgrades, a previous school board had persuaded officials to let it tax residences on their full assessed values. It was the only county of Georgia's 159 counties to not allow the homestead exemption, which is worth about $37 a year per homeowner.

Officials with both the county administration and school system have said they cannot estimate how much the property tax exemption would cost the school system.

Neither Florence Dees, the county's tax commissioner, nor George Ruehling, the school system's chief financial officer, would offer an estimated impact on the school system's $114.6 million budget.

County officials have said one reason for the foggy outlook is because major commercial properties in the county are being reassessed. The new property values would affect the degree of financial impact.

Most of those who spoke at Tuesday's public hearing said they're already having trouble paying their bills.

Noble Sorrow said he has been a homeowner in Glynn County since 1949.

"I admit my children went to school here," Sorrow said. "Back in the '50s and '60s, the school system was in pretty good shape. Now it seems like they've got problems everywhere."

Sorrow said he needs the tax relief soon because his property assessment jumped 35 percent.

"This year's going to hurt bad,'' he said. "The older you get, the more medical bills you're going to pay. …

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