Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's That Special Time of Year

When Georgia voters head to the polls to give tax breaks to the wealthy and hammer ordinary property owners.

This time we have three amendments to the State Constitution.

Amendment One will give tax breaks to corporations that own forests if they promise not to develop them for fifteen years. Sounds good? No. The corporation will not make the pledge for properties that are anywhere near the metro areas. They will make the pledge for properties that are deeply rural. This will devastate the small counties in South Georggia where there aren't many inhabitants and the large timber companies are major landowners.

Amendment Two allows school districts to shift school taxes from schools to development. If we haven't learned already that allowing developers to play with government money is bad, then we've learned nothing from the past three years. And of course it will raise property values so the school children will benefit in the end. There's a wise old saw about the bird in the hand. I suggest any one considering this consider that saying. The last thing we need in these economic times is more government funded speculation.

Amendment Three shifts the burden of initially paving subdivisions from the developers who develop them to the municipalities and counties. The normal course of subdividing is that the developer paves the roads, then dedicates the streets to the local government, which then decides whether or not to accept the responsibility. They can and do refuse the dedication. Under Three, the developer could set up an IDD and then fund the street building with bonds that the developer doesn't have to pay. The new homeowners do. But what happens if the development fails, as so many have recently? Who gets left holding the bag on these bonds?

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