On Thursday, Gov. Deal signed the bill into law to allow the county to place a referendum on the ballot in November for voters to consider imposing a homestead option sales tax, or HOST.
The tax would mean an additional penny would be paid in sales tax in unincorporated Cherokee County and in its cities, and the funds generated by the new sales tax would reduce the amount of property taxes paid.
The HOST does not roll back property taxes for the fire district or school property taxes.
County Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens has said the penny is expected to generate roughly $30 million in tax revenues per year for the county that could be applied to approximately 49,000 residential properties receiving the $5,000 homestead exemption.
Ahrens said he was excited to see Deal sign the legislation.
“This is a great example of planning and execution,” he said, adding the county began planning its request for local legislation in December and had the full support of Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock), who sponsored the legislation during the 2012 Georgia General Assembly’s legislative session.
Ahrens added the county will use the time between the July 31 primary to the Nov. 6 election to educate voters on the referendum.
County Manager Jerry Cooper said he expects the commission to formally ask the Cherokee County Elections and Registration’s board of directors to place the referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot after the primary.
Georgia law allows local counties to use up to 20 percent of HOST proceeds toward capital projects, which would leave the county with 80 percent, or roughly $24 million, to increase homestead exemptions.
The county worked closely with Rogers to pass the measure. Rogers also applauded the governor’s decision.
“The passage of this measure will earn Cherokee County the distinction of having some of the lowest property taxes in the state for homeowners,” he said, adding it would also make the county one of the locations with the lowest property tax burden for seniors in the state.