Tax Increase On Hold

County Commissioners Put Hold On Property Tax Increase

A vote on a proposed property tax increase in Houston County to benefit the elderly has been put on hold for a while. Houston County commissioners are now looking at another way to raise the money.

Houston County commissioners were supposed to vote on whether to ask the Legislature to put the property tax question on a ballot later this year, but they tabled the idea after a sales tax hike was suggested instead.

Regional Council on Aging Director Robert Crowder says a 3 mil property tax increase would cost the average home-owner an extra $24 a year, but would generate about $2.7 million in additional revenue. The money would be used to help senior citizens remain independent and at home instead of in nursing homes.

Crowder says other counties in the Wiregrass area are being asked to consider a similar tax hike, but all revenue would stay in the county where it is generated. Some property owners, however, favor a sales tax instead. But, some senior citizens say a sales tax could actually end up hurting the ones it’s supposed to help.

County commissioners could raise the sales tax themselves or they could ask the Legislature for a public referendum on that question as well. A quarter-cent sales tax hike would generate about the same amount of revenue as the proposed property tax increase. Houston County commissioners have tabled the issue for two weeks, until their next meeting.

Houston County’s sales tax revenue is on the increase. Officials say revenue so far this year is up more than 11-percent over the same period last year.