by Lee Becker
The Oconee County Board of Elections and Registration voted last week to call a special election in conjunction with the May 21 General Primary to allow voters to decide if they want to increase homestead exemptions in the county.
The Board voted to put 10 items on the ballot, four of which remove the current laws and six of which put new laws in place. All 10 must pass for the changes in the exemptions to take effect.
Four of the ballot items have a duplicate, referring first to “Oconee County ad valorem taxes” and then to “Oconee County school district ad valorem taxes” because taxes for county government and for county schools are collected separately.
Most confusing of the ballot items are two that refer to increases in the homestead exemption immediately to $3,000 and in 2035 to $8,000.
Actually, voters will be asked to increase the existing $2,000 exemption to $5,000 immediately and to $10,000 in 2035 because the state-mandated $2,000 homestead exemption remains in place regardless of what voters do, and the $3,000 and $8,000 is added to that base.
If the 10 items are approved, homeowners who turn 75 will get an additional $10,000 property tax exemption in 2025.
And homeowners who turn 65 automatically will get a freeze on the assessment of their property, if voters approve all 10 of the items.
Advance voting for the March 12 Presidential Primary will be from Feb. 18 to March 8, at the Oconee County Administrative Building, said Oconee County Director of Elections and Registration Sharon Gregg. The last day to register to vote is Feb. 12. The last day to register for the May 21 General Primary/Nonpartisan Election is April 22.
Advance voting for the May 21 General Primary will be from April 29 to May 17, also at the County Administrative Building, Gregg told the Board.
Gregg said she expects to have up to 24 machines available for voting.
Lee Becker is a retired journalism professor and resident of Oconee County. A longer version of this story originally appeared on his blog, oconeecountyobservations.org.