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Opinion: Governments must reduce tax rate to give residents relief
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The Hall County tax commissioner's office is located at 2875 Browns Bridge Road in Gainesville. - photo by Hall County government

As the city of Gainesville, Hall County, Gainesville and Hall County school systems prepare their budgets, they need to consider the toll the COVID-19 pandemic is taking on homeowners, property owners and businesses.

In a matter of a couple of months, thousands of our citizens suffered job losses and have been unable to make their mortgage, rent, utilities, car, credit cards and other payments. Many are having difficulty putting food on the table. If you are receiving a check, be thankful because these people are having to put their lives on the line to go to work each day just to survive — heaven help them and their family if they get sick.                                

Another harsh reality is the coronavirus is taking its toll on local businesses that have lost income due to lack of customers and forced shut-downs. Many are barely hanging on while some have closed forever.

Now, these struggling homeowners, property owners and businesses will soon come up against another bill: property taxes. 

It’s critical that large tax cuts be part of the city of Gainesville, Hall County and Gainesville and Hall school systems final budgets. Homeowners, businesses and other taxpayers urgently need tax relief. Many will no longer be able to pay the amount of property taxes they currently pay, and some will be unable to pay any property taxes at all. The last thing our local economy needs are evictions, foreclosures and tax sales, which will be a disaster as we witnessed during the Great Recession.

To put it simply, the tax (millage) rate needs to be reduced by at least 25%.

To some, it may sound impossible to make major budget cuts and reduce property taxes at the same time, but as a business owner I know it can be done by making tough choices. I am hopeful we have elected the right leaders who are not afraid to make the tough choices needed to reduce property taxes.

Government has no money on its own, only the money it takes from taxpayers. Our citizens have always been there for the government, and now it’s time for government to be there for the citizens. Reducing property taxes to help our local people during this COVID-19 pandemic is the right thing to do.

Knowing taxpayers pay his salary, Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan recently announced he would forgo 14% of his salary. Locally, I’m sure our elected officials and those seeking office, managers, department heads, plus many other government employees will be announcing they are following his lead.

It’s real simple — if we elected the right people, the millage rate will go down. If the millage rate doesn’t go down, then I hope everyone remembers each of them when they vote!                                                           

Jack Waldrip

Gainesville

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