Explanation of Special Election on DeKalb County Homestead Exemption, Act 264, House Bill 596

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Commissioner Rader:

Explanation of Special Election on DeKalb County Homestead Exemption, Act 264, House Bill 596

In 2015, the DeKalb Delegation passed local legislation to call a referendum this November to extend the existing Homestead Property Tax Assessment Freeze (applicable only to County taxes) until 2022.

However, the legislation went further to stipulate that, if the voters approved separate referenda to dedicate the Homestead Option Sales Tax (HOST) exclusively to tax relief (eliminating the current 20% available for capital improvements) AND to approve a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) for capital projects (to replace the 20% HOST allocation to capital), THEN the Assessment Freeze would be TOLLED (suspended) while those taxes were in effect.  The authors of the legislation have said that the wording was in error; instead of "tolled" they meant "extended". Nevertheless the language is plain, and therefore binding.  As a consequence of this error, the Board of Commissioners withdrew plans for a referendum on the HOST amendment and the SPLOST.  Legislators intend to address the error in this year's General Assembly.

All this complexity notwithstanding, voters wishing to extend the Homestead Property Tax Assessment Freeze until 2022 should vote yes to approve the legislation, or the freeze will expire at the end of 2016, exposing many homeowners to increased County property taxes

Jeff Rader