Residents invited to proposed sales tax forums
by staff reports
September 23, 2012 02:15 AM | 2253 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cherokee County residents who want to know more about the proposed 1 percent sales tax to be used to roll back property taxes will get their chance at two upcoming educational forums, the first on Tuesday.

The proposed Homestead Option Sales Tax will be on the Nov. 6 general election ballot for voters to consider.

The first educational forum will begin at 8 a.m. Tuesday at the Northside Hospital-Cherokee Conference Center.

Another forum is slated for 6 p.m. Oct. 4 at the Chambers at City Center in Woodstock. Both forums are sponsored by Cherokee Bank and the Cherokee Tribune.

“The HOST Referendum is difficult to understand for the average voter. There is no better experience than to hear an informative presentation and have an opportunity to ask questions,” said Dennis Burnette, Cherokee Bank president.

The educational forum is part of the Snapshot series sponsored by the local bank.

For the HOST forum, County Commission Chair Buzz Ahrens will lead the panel discussion.

On Tuesday, the board of commissioners agreed to a resolution to use 100 percent of revenue collected to rollback homeowner property taxes, dubbing the proposal the “100 Percent from Day One” resolution.

The HOST is expected to generate about $30 million per year.

Commissioners also pledged to start rolling back property taxes as soon as possible, although the law allows the county to collect the HOST for two years before beginning to roll back.

The state law which created HOST also allows for 20 percent of the money collected to be used for capital improvements, with the rest used to roll back residential property taxes.

Commissioner Harry Johnston said at Tuesday’s meeting that by having a county SPLOST already in place, using 20 percent of HOST funds for capital expenditures would be pointless.

“We would take any HOST funds collected up to 30 days prior to the date we set the millage rate and we would calculate a tax credit based on the full cumulative amount of those funds collected,” said Johnston. “That’s what I mean by ‘100 percent from day one.’”

Ahrens has said the HOST in general is a “shift to (a) consumption tax.”

The 1 percent sales tax is used to increase the homestead exemptions to qualified properties both in unincorporated Cherokee County and in its cities, which reduces the amount of property taxes paid. The tax would be charged on the same items as state sales taxes are charged on, with the addition of groceries.

The HOST does not roll back property taxes for the fire district or school property taxes. Creation and termination of the tax can only be done by referendum.

Burnette, who also represents Cherokee County on the Atlanta Regional Commission, said that he hopes voters will take the opportunity to learn about the tax for themselves and then get out to vote.

“Residents should attend this forum to verify the assumptions made by the board of commissioners in asking for this referendum,” Burnette said. “This forum can help our local county government process run smoother than it has in the last several months, as the mood has been one of distrust. Instead, I believe we should work in the spirit of ‘Trust, but verify’ as President Ronald Reagan often said.”

Both forums are free and open to the public. Those who plan to attend are asked to make reservations by emailing Cindy Poole at cindypoole@cherokeebank.com

Pastries and coffee will be served starting at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday for those in attendance.

“If Cherokee residents come to this meeting and follow President Reagan’s advice, we can look forward to the referendum process working, whether residents vote for or against,” Burnette said.

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