City council passes new language to “Thaw the Freeze” legislation

COLUMBUS, Ga.- During Tuesday’s city council meeting, council in a 9 to 1 vote approved the new language suggested by the legislative council.

The version assures that if passed, those who have the freeze would keep it, but after January 1, 2017, new purchases would not have the freeze and would be assessed at fair market value and they would be eligible for $13,500 homestead exemption. Mayor Tomlinson and other council members agreed that there should be some educational forums on the new language. A part of that would be to talk about the fact that if a property is bought after April 1, 2016 and one forgets to file for a homestead exemption by April 1 the following year, the exemption would be lost.

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The previous version was viewed as unconstitutional in that legislative council in that including the additional $6,500 homestead exemption was too much for one ballot question.

The new language swayed Councilor Judy Thomas who voted no to it the first time. “This is legal from what I have been told by legislation and so tonight I’m going to vote yes,” Thomas said. “I’m going to vote yes to put it on the ballot, so that the citizens can decide whether or not we keep the freeze.”

Councilor Bruce Huff said there have not been any public forums on the new language. He added that the council is the legislative branch for the area, and it came came up with and voted on legislation and sent it to the state. He added the state decided on some new language, but says he has a problem that the legislation did not come back to council for discussion. It instead came back to council in the form of a document. Huff went on to say as the legislative branch for the area, when things go right or wrong for them, they get the credit for it and that is the case for the freeze language.

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