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Senate plans to overhaul property taxes
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Georgia’s current property tax system places unnecessary financial burdens on families and individuals who are already struggling to survive in this grim economy.


The months of public outcry and countless headlines in papers across the state make it clear that maintaining the system’s status quo is not an option. If we are to get the state and its residents back on their feet, we have to change the way property owners are taxed. Senate leaders have heard these concerns loud and clear. 


More than 40 changes to the tax system are proposed under a measure that will reform Georgia’s property tax assessment and appeals system. This includes year-round assessment appeals, all comparable sales including foreclosures and bank sales must be applied, and the “view factor” will be eliminated as a way to determine value. The proposed changes to assessments and appeals relieve burdens on property owners, but also achieve efficiency for the process and for county governments. 


Senate Bill 346 comes as a result of input gathered from property owners, assessors and local governments for over a year. The underlying belief behind this movement is that taxpayers deserve to have their taxes collected in a way that is fair and transparent. What’s more, a fair and balanced tax system makes our state more attractive to businesses that are looking to relocate or expand. 


This is another tool in the toolbox to boost our state’s employment rate and encourage greater economic recovery. 


We can all agree that making sure Georgia continues to have access to adequate water resources is another key to our economy’s health and development. The governor recently announced the Georgia Water Stewardship Act as a road map to better managing our resources.


This will be accomplished by encouraging water conservation, reducing wasteful loss and incentivizing innovation in both increasing water supply and lessening demand.  Beginning in July 2012, the legislation requires efficient water fixtures in all new residential and commercial construction statewide, as well as the installation of efficient cooling towers in new industrial construction.


Monitoring our water consumption and loss is another important piece of managing our water. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division will set standards for water loss and leak detection for all medium and large public water systems, which serve 91 percent of Georgia’s water customers.


Additionally, farmers around the state have voluntarily agreed to have groundwater surface water withdrawals monitored from our rivers, streams and lakes. 


I’m also pursuing the development of public private partnerships for reservoirs.


Under my Senate Bill 321, the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority Water Supply Division and local governments can enter into a water use agreement with the owner of any private reservoir. 


In other legislative news, the Senate approved my Senate Bill 235 by a 47 to 2 vote to prohibit anyone from being involuntarily implanted with a microchip. 


With so many of our constitutional rights coming under assault from Washington and growing government intrusion, I’m pleased the Senate voted in favor of protecting our constitutional rights of person and property. 


I was also pleased to welcome Miss United States Erin Grizzle to the State Capitol.  Ms. Grizzle is an Ellijay native and former Apple Queen who won the coveted Miss United States title in Las Vegas last July.


She’s active in local politics and her community, where she has mentored youth for nine years. A graduate of the University of Georgia, she also holds a master’s degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology in business administration.


During her role as Miss United States, Grizzle has represented her hometown and the Northeast Georgia area with poise and grace. I’m proud to see this remarkable young lady continue to achieve new heights of success.    


Sen. Chip Pearson serves as chairman of the Economic Development Committee. He represents the 51st Senate District, which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Pickens and Union counties and portions of Forsyth and White counties. He may be reached at (404) 656-9221 or via e-mail at