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TSPLOST penalty top legislative issue

Special to SEGAZINE

A state senate bill proposing the removal of a large penalty against regions that didn’t pass the recent Transportation SPLOST is just one of many that could have an impact on Brantley County if they pass the scrutiny of legislators this session.

Senate Bill 73 sponsored by Republican State Senator John Albers would do away with a 30 percent matching penalty that will be levied against all regions of the state that did not pass the controversial tax item late last year. Currently all regions that didn’t vote for the item would be forced to pay 30 percent matching on Georgia Department of Transportation projects as opposed to just 10 percent.  The bill would drop that matching requirement to 10 percent.

“Taxing any one part of Georgia simply because they did not pass a tax increase is un-American, said Sen. Albers. “This is unfortunately the case for 113 counties across the state that voted against the TSPLOST tax.”

That could appeal to many in the state with only three of the 12 regions created for the purpose of voting on the item actually approving it.

In fact, the regional district setup brought many in the state – particularly various arms of the Tea Party – to question the constitutionality of the voting practice that they believed would take voting power away from smaller counties in regions with much larger population centers.

The bill has been read twice and referred to a senate committee for further investigation.

Meanwhile tax changes could lead to a sigh of relief for delinquent taxpayers and exasperation for Brantley County government.

Senate Bill 72, proposed by senator Jesse Stone, would reduce the current one percent per month interest penalty on taxpayers for past due taxes to only 7 percent per year.

This comes less than a month after the county commission voted to eliminiate a year-long practice of forgiving interest and penalties on select tax bills in an effort to bring back some cash flow and reduce paperwork in the tax commissioner’s office.

But the bill also has another portion that could be beneficial to county government and not as much to residents since the interest paid by the government to the resident on refunds would also be dropped from one percent per month to seven percent a year.

Yet another tax bill, House Bill 80, proposes a facelift for vehicle tax reform that was implemented about a year ago.

Among the changes are streamlining of late fees for title ad valorem taxes from 10 percent of the tax plus one percent a month to $25 after 30 days from the required registration date, an additional $50 after 60 days and an additional $100 for every 30 days after that.

However, the same bill would also reduce the time the tax commissioner would have to pay the state its share of the tax from 30 to 20 days.

Tax bills are also the focus of HB 159 w hich proposes that the placement of fees and assessments on the property tax bill be prohibited.  This would include fees such as street, lights, speed bumps and even fire services.

Meanwhile non-profit organizations in Brantley County will probably be keeping an eye on HB 101, which would require non-profits to file for a permit and fall into various guidelines when serving food at events.  The bill would allow the county to designate these permits to the health department which handles permits for other food organizations.

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