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ASK THE EXPERTS

Real tax relief for senior citizens and the permanently disabled

POSTED: October 28, 2009 4:00 a.m.

This is the kind of column that I love to write.

  

My phone has been ringing with a lot of thanks from people 65 and older, or permanently disabled, who just received their promised lower 2009 property tax bills.

  

There was even a call from one person who turned 65 this year and is anticipating a lower property tax bill next year.

  

We worked hard to get this local legislation on the ballot. You overwhelmingly voted to approve it.

  

Some others had questions as a result of the Lumpkin County Board of Commissioners Chairman’s recent comments concerning state representation of Lumpkin County.

  

Officially, I represent House District 9, which does not include the Wahoo Precinct.  Unofficially, I represent every citizen of Lumpkin County. 

  

Residents of Wahoo call me when they have problems, and we get them resolved.

  

For local legislation involving all of Lumpkin County, Rep. Doug Collins (Wahoo Precinct) and I work together, just as we did on the senior citizen/permanently disabled property tax relief bills.

  

Sometimes there is confusion because I am the only Representative of the City of Dahlonega.

  

Local legislation, which only affects citizens of Dahlonega does not need Rep. Collins’ approval.

  

Dawson County representation, is similarly divided.

  

Rep. David Ralston represents the Amicalola Precinct, and I represent the remainder of Dawson County, including the City of Dawsonville.

  

I recently attended the Broadband 2020 conference in Atlanta, sponsored by the Georgia Center for Advanced Telecommunications Technology.

  

The briefings were introduced by Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson.

  

We had 11 experts speak on different aspects of broadband: past, present and future. 

  

Several of the speakers discussed the world wide ramifications of broadband, including the necessity of increasing the speed with which information is transmitted.

  

I could not imagine the need for these speeds until they pointed out ways speed would impact the fields of science and medicine.

  

One of the questions posed was: “How broad is broadband?”

  

I am not sure that it was ever answered.    

  

Recently, Finland identified broadband as a birthright. Every Finnish citizen will have at least one megabyte.

  

Not to be outdone, Richard Calhoun, Georgia’s Broadband coordinator, said that he was shooting to give every Georgian one gigabyte.  

  

Calhoun was one of the speakers, and we discussed our North Georgia broadband project over lunch.

  

While it is true that our project is at or near the top of Georgia’s prioritized list, we still have two major hurdles.

  

First, the Governor has to commit to matching funds; and second, the reviewers in Washington have to approve the federal grant money for Georgia.  We will keep our fingers crossed and keep lobbying to overcome both obstacles. 

  

As Chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, one of my top priorities is to bring broadband fiber optic technology to north Forsyth, Dawson and Lumpkin counties. That’s a major way to attract businesses to our area that will provide the good paying jobs in the future for our folks.

  

One of the most interesting sessions of Broadband 2020 was a real-time, live hook-up with a Barrow County High School chemistry class.

  

The students could see us; we could see them; and we could question each other. The Barrow school system is the only K-12 connected to PeachNet.

  

PeachNet is the statewide communications network supporting all University System of Georgia Information and Instructional Technology efforts. 

  

Through PeachNet, Barrow schools are connected to Canada, Ireland, England, France, Spain and many other countries and not just the chemistry students. 

  

A member of the New York Symphony Orchestra demonstrated for a band student complex fingering for one of the instruments. Language students converse with students in other countries.

  

I congratulate Teresa Conowal from Kilough Elementary School on being named Dawson County’s Teacher-of-the-Year. 

  

Additionally, I want to thank Dawson County school bus drivers for celebrating School Bus Safety Week.

  

It took me two years to get legislation passed that designates the third week of October as School Bus Safety Week and the third Monday as School Bus Driver Appreciation Day.

  

I do appreciate all of you who teach our children and those who safely transport them to school.

  

As we get closer to the start of the next Legislative Session in January, I’ll need to hear from you. 

  

Let me know what your legislative needs are so I can be prepared to handle them early. 

  

Rep. Amos Amerson can be reached at 689 N. Chestatee Street, Dahlonega, GA 30533; (706) 864-6589; e-mail hamerson@windstream.net. Or contact Gerald Lewy at (706) 344-7788.  He’ll know how to get your message to me. 

 

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