COLUMBUS, Ga. — Wednesday night, the final public forum on Columbus Mayor, Teresa Tomlinson’s plan to “thaw the tax freeze” was held. During the forum, two former state legislators voiced their disapproval on the subject.
One of those legislators is former state senator and local attorney, Seth Harp. Before serving on the senate, Harp (R), was a private citizen says the 1980’s were a time of hyperinflation. He says during that time, people saw the value of their homes and their taxes double. Harp and a group of others thought this was not fair and they wanted to do something about. That something was freeze property taxes. Harp says that referendum to freeze the property tax was approved by majority of voters in 1982. “Our motive when we did this was one thing: to protect people,” Harp said. “Protect them in their homes and make certain their homes were protected so they didn’t get taxed out of their homes.”
During a tax freeze, the value of a home is frozen at the value someone pays for the home. For instance, if someone bought a home in 1982 for $60,000, the property taxes would be reflected at that value for as long as they owned the home. According to Harp, some believe that this is not fair. “You name me one tax that is not fair,” Harp said. “Anybody who pays a tax will tell you it’s unfair.”
When asked whether or not he believes the vote to “thaw the freeze” will pass, Harp said, “I don’t think it stands a snowballs chance in passing. When it passed originally, 75% of the people supported it. When they brought it back in the 80’s, Over 80% favored it. I think it’ll be somewhere in the 75 to 80% range people are not gonna do it.”
If the freeze were to be passed, Harp says, “It would have an immediate impact because homes would be brought to fair-market value. And at fair-market value, people may see their homes increase by 20, 30, 100, 150, 500% and what’ll happen is their taxes proportionally would go up.”