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Your Views: All of us should willingly pay local school tax
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Taxes — we all pay them and sometimes complain about them. However, lest we forget that unless we each want our own ambulance and fire truck in our driveway, plus an EMT or two, taxes save us money. We support each other by all contributing to the common pot for the things we may not use every day but keep our community vibrant and thriving: Roads, parks, boat launches and schools.

School tax has its own special set of rules; one pays school tax until age 70. This makes sense to me for those who are of limited means, but for those of us who are more fortunate, I believe it is shortsighted for us not to continue to pay school tax.

We benefit from an educated population. Current students will become store clerks, plumbers, electricians and computer specialists in the next five or 10 years. Some will become our nurses, doctors, dentists, engineers and scientists. New industry and businesses locate in communities where there are good schools and educated potential employees. If that criteria is not met, prospective businesses locate elsewhere.

When funds for schools are continually cut as they have been in recent years, programs are eliminated, days in school are cut, classes are larger and teachers burn out. Good schools need good teachers. Does a business attract the very best employees by cutting salaries and increasing the work load? Dedication and love of children can only go so far. It doesn’t pay the rent, buy the food or send a child to college.

As a country, we will not keep up with other industrialized nations by shortening our school year to less than 180 days when already their students attend school 200 or more days.

This year was our year to open our tax bill and find it reduced by 67 percent because we were 70 on Jan. 1. Did this happen to you? Or did it happen in a previous year? I called Keith Echols, tax commissioner, and asked to have our school tax reinstated. I will admit that the initial response that I got from the tax commissioner’s and tax assessors offices was one of surprise, disbelief and no one has ever asked that before. Hopefully, I am not the last to make that request.

Our schools need our support. I personally feel it is wrong to shortchange our future generations so we can go on one more trip or buy a few more toys. After all, we are all in this together.

As a community and country, we cannot continue to thrive and grow if we eat our seed corn by continually short changing the education of our children and future generations. If you also view schools as important to the growth and vibrancy of our community and have been blessed with the financial ability to dig a little deeper, please consider contacting Keith Echols, tax commissioner, and ask to have the school tax exemption rescinded. I faxed him the request at 770-531-7106. His office number is 770-531-6950.

Mollie Drake
Gainesville

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