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Tax study group sends findings to legislators
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A committee formed to study Effingham County’s tax structure has finished its work and forwarded its suggestions to state lawmakers.

The Effingham County Tax Study Committee met for the final time Thursday and will recommend to the county’s legislative delegation the need for impact fees for education, ad valorem taxes on vehicles, ad valorem taxes on mobile homes at the same rate as site-built homes and its support of state Rep. Buddy Carter’s tax relief bills and the Stephens-Day Act.

“I was pleased to see they endorsed the property tax cap,” Carter said. “I was pleased with the results of the study committee.”

Carter (R-Pooler) introduced legislation in January calling for a referendum to be voted on by the citizens of Effingham County that would place caps on property tax increases within the county.

The legislation, akin to the Stephens-Day bill in Chatham County, calls for an increase in a homeowner’s homestead exemption that would limit tax increases to no more than the rate of inflation.

Carter introduced the same legislation in the House three years ago. He opted not to re-introduce last year and attempted to reach a compromise on increasing the homestead exemption for seniors on their school board property taxes.

The two measures have been read in the House twice and there is still time for them to make it through both chambers since they are local legislation, Carter said.

“I’ve gotten a lot of feedback,” he said. “A lot of people have called, written, e-mailed, in support of it. The response from my constituents in south Effingham has been positive and overwhelming.”

The tax study committee, enacted by legislation drawn up by state Rep. Jon Burns, was scheduled to give its recommendations to Burns, Carter and state Sen. Jack Hill (R-Reidsville) early this month. The committee originally was scheduled to have its work done by Dec. 31, 2007, but the measure to abolish property taxes statewide and replace them a new set of sales taxes — Speaker of the House Glenn Richardson’s GREAT plan — and what it would mean pushed the committee’s start date back.

The tax study committee was created because of a need to review how county services are financed and how to spread the tax burden equitably across the revenue sources.

There is a proposal to do away with ad valorem taxes on vehicles across the state, and Carter said lawmakers will know more about that this morning after the Republican caucus. He said he will research if making ad valorem taxes on mobile homes similar to those on site-built homes needs to be done locally or if it has to be a statewide effort.

“I’m going to check into that,” he said.