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Morning Briefing: Tax Forum Today

Here's what you need to know before you head out this Tuesday.

1. Weather: Sunny skies await us in the Canton area today, according to the National Weather Service. Expect a high temperature of 81 degrees today and a low of 57 tonight.

2. In Case You Missed It: Cherokee County Schools surpassed the state and national average in SAT scores. The report released yesterday details the average score of all county high schools. Etowah High School had the best scores in the county, followed by Cherokee and Creekview.

3. Happening Now: There will be a forum to discuss a proposed sales tax for Cherokee County that will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot at 8 a.m. at the Northside Hospital-Cherokee Conference Center. If the sales tax passes, the current M&O property taxes will be phased out.

4. Looking Ahead: Unfortunately, we jumped the gun yesterday on the church expansion story. We will definitely have it today, and you can read all about the newest developments at 8 a.m.!

5. On This Date in History: On Sept. 25, 1775, patriot Ethan Allen attempted to capture Montreal from British forces during the Revolutionary War. Allen's attack was unsuccessful. 

Frank Jones September 25, 2012 at 03:59 PM
The county commissions want us to vote YES on the upcoming referendum for the HOST tax. This is an addtional 1% sales tax being offered to us by some of the same commissioners that approved the Jimmy Bobo fiasco. So, let's think for a moment...could this be another fiasco for the county's taxpayers? Let's take a look. In the county commissioner minutes dated 9/4/12 (http://www.cherokeega.com/applications/agenda/boc/minutes/20120904_ws.pdf), Ms. Funk reported that the HOST tax is revenue neutral and will generate $30 million in sales taxes and offset $30 million of property taxes -- assuming that the county uses 100% of the HOST tax to offset property taxes (it's only required by state law to use 80% to offset taxes). The minutes indicate that the commissioners are "considering a resolution to require 100%" be used to reduce homeowner property taxes. Observation 1: If they pass a resolution requiring 100% be used for homeowner property taxes, then they could pass a later resolution reducing it down to 80%. Observation 2: The minutes said "homeowner" property taxes, however, under state law, the reduction would include commercial real estate, residential rental properties, and undeveloped real estate...not just "homeowner" real estate. Observation 3: For the most part, residents will pay the lions share of the HOST tax while a significant portion of the reductions will accrue to landlords and large property owners.
Frank Jones September 25, 2012 at 04:16 PM
An interesting fact about the HOST tax is the effective date of the new tax and the effective date of the tax reduction. The tax will go into effect on April 1, 2013 while we won't see any property tax reduction until the 2015 tax bills! In effect, we will pay EXTRA taxes in 2013 and 2014 before seeing any tax reduction in 2015! In the Cherokee Ledger, Ms. Funk tried to sell this new tax as a tax savings. She stated that in her particular situation that she'd see a $95 net tax savings. Her calculation was based upon 100% of the tax being used to offset property taxes. She failed to state that she'll paid an additional $415 in sales taxes between 4/1/2013 and 12/31/14 before receiving the benefit in December 2015. She used "her situation" to show this "savings", however, she is a homeowner. What if you rent? If you rent, this is a straight-up tax increase! Going back to the beginning, this is supposed to be "revenue neutral". Let's forget about the almost two years of additional tax before we start receiving a reduction and assume that it is in fact "revenue neutral" to the county. If it is revenue neutral, why do we need the change? The answer is that it is revenue neutral to the county, not to specific residents...there are winners and losers! Winners - commercial property owner, landloards, land owners. Losers - residents/individuals, families with children, and large families.
Frank Jones September 25, 2012 at 04:36 PM
One more point about the bias in the Commissioners and Ms. Funk information, Ms. Funk in the Ledger was reported to having said that 156 of the 159 counties have the HOST tax. In fact, 156 counties have a LOST tax. It's similar, yet different. Under LOST 100% of the proceeds are required by state law to reduce property taxes. One must wonder why the county opted for the HOST tax vs LOST tax? Could it be the 20% that the county could siphon for capital projects? Lastly, if you itemize on your personal tax returns, you receive a tax deduction for the property taxes you pay but you won't receive any deduction for the additional sales taxes you'll pay. With the HOST tax, you'll pay more Federal and State income taxes. In my opinion, the HOST tax is a TAX INCREASE and a TAX RE-ALLOCATION trying to be implemented by the county commissioners who have a track record of mismanagement and fiscal irresponsibility. I'm voting NO! NO NEW TAXES.
John September 25, 2012 at 11:20 PM
I agree Frank, this is just another regressive tax that will benefit a few while being a burden to many.

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