COLUMBUS, Ga. – With the election just 12 days away, those supporting the “Thaw the Freeze” ballot question and against those are trying to win your vote in Muscogee County. Representatives from both sides attended a forum Thursday night.
The proposal would eliminate the property tax freeze for new homeowners and base property tax freeze for new homeowners and base property taxes on a market value system. Those currently under the freeze would keep it.
The property tax freeze was established in 1982. Courts upheld it as a constitutional after it was challenged in the early 2000’s.
Mary Sue Polleys is in favor of keeping the freeze.
“The promise being given all over town is that if you have the freeze, you will keep the freeze. However, the people making that promise will not have the power to keep that promise once the new plan is challenged in court,” she said.
Brian Anderson with the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce is in favor of thawing the freeze.
“We haven’t had the churn. We haven’t had the turnover rate. People buying and selling and the mobility of the real estate market, five years of negative new house starts. Five years of in a row of new permits are down so, there’s a lot of quantitative and qualitative data that just says that we could do better,” Anderson said.
Polleys says the property tax freeze is a homeowner benefit and is against the proposal.
“That takes the freeze away from all the new buyers after January First. Now why would I vote to take away a benefit that has been a benefit to our family. Why would I vote to take that away from a newcomer?” Polleys said.
Anderson says the higher property taxes for new homeowners deter young folks from moving to Columbus.
“If we’re going to attract young people, if we’re going to have real estate growth, if we’re going to have ways to grow the economy, status quo is not going to work. We’ve got to vote for a vitality and vibrancy of our economy,” he said.
The proposal would sunset the property tax freeze. This means if it is passed, homeowners already under the freeze before January 2017 would keep it as long as they own their home.