Advocates for Fair Taxation and Responsible Spending
At the outset, we want to remind the members who appealed the excessive 2007 mass revaluation of their property that all the legal issues we raised in our 17 count Class Action lawsuit can be raised in the Dougherty Superior Court if raised before the Board of Equalization. By raising uniformity, you clearly have a right to a hearing on this issue if you appealed to the Superior Court. You are not required to have an attorney.
To our knowledge, the Superior Court has not ruled on these issues.
The Court of Appeals simply ruled that each property owner had a right to appeal to the Superior Court under O.C.G.A. sec 48-5-311 (g) and did not have a right to file a lawsuit raising the same issues. Thus, the court never ruled on the merits of our complaint.
One of our objectives is to be a “watch dog” group in analyzing the significant actions of our city and county government.
As an example of our objectives, we have discussed the legality of the City Commission in circumventing the law against a government granting gratuities by using ADICA as a conduit to make grants to their favorite organizations. Additionally the city has designated the new
When the city commission ruled on the recent questionable bond issue, we filed with the commission a multi page petition pointing out the legal flaws in our opinion. The commission never responded to this petition.
Basically it is our opinion that our governments and the school systems make no effort to conserve our tax dollars and in many instances squander our money.
We have to pick our legal fights based on the likelihood of a favorable ruling coupled with adequate legal funds. One of our problem is the Court will not provide any relief in the form of an injunction if the alleged action is completed. Our relief would prevent future actions.
We are not flushed with funds and we solicit your donation or pledge.
We feel our local Tax Assessors allow public utilities a pass as the law allows the Assessors 30 days to question the valuations which are received from the Department of Revenue. This department basically rubber stamps the value a utility places on their property and the department have no “field” employees to verify what property the utilities have in a county. Additionally they do not tax the utilities distribution right of ways. Thus the owner who or whose predecessor granted the easement pays the total land value. To our knowledge the local Assessors do not verify the volume of petroleum products on the pipe lines storage tanks on January 1st of each year.
Thus if those utilities paid their share of the tax burden, it would reduce our burden, which can be overwhelming.
We also feel the assessors are too liberal in allowing exemptions from taxes.
Some six or seven States have eliminated ad valorem taxes in favor of extra sales taxes, primarily these states’ Supreme Court has ruled the use of ad valorem taxes to fund education is unconstitutional because of the great value disparity between the tax bases of the various counties.
The last State to do this, to our knowledge, was
In 1981, the Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court said in a concurring opinion: “the ad valorem tax system is antiquated, outmoded, unfair and violates equal protection.” His use of the words “equal protection” was based on the failure to tax intangibles.
One of our ultimate missions is to join with taxpayers groups across this state to challenge the constitutionality of the use of ad valorem taxation to significantly fund education.
As you can see we need many “brain sessions” to make the right decisions. We cannot sit on our hands. Conversely we must demonstrate our back bones by challenging the extreme and wasteful decisions of our governments.
Our current situation is tantamount to the situation facing our revolutionary ancestors whose battle cry was “NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION.”
Profiles in Taxpayer Advocacy: Dougherty County Taxpayers Association
April 1, 2010
From time to time, I’ll profile a local taxpayer advocate or advocacy organization to highlight their efforts fighting for lower taxes, less spending, and more transparency. For my first profile, I choose the Dougherty County Taxpayers Association (DCTA). Founded in June 2007, DCTA has been working to educate the citizens of Dougherty County, Georgia about their rights as taxpayers and engage them to better oversee county government tax and budget policies. In addition, DCTA has challenged the constitutionality of the county’s property tax system in court to make it fairer for taxpayers.
There is no question that Georgia, like many states, needs steadfast watchdogs for taxpayers. While some purported fiscal conservatives in Georgia have attacked “broad-based” tax increases, they have quietly been raising fees, proposing “revenue enhancements,” targeting new excise taxes, and coming up with other tax-hiking gimmicks. But make no mistake; these are tax increases by another name. NTU and groups like DCTA are involved in ongoing efforts at the local and state levels to prevent these and other tax increases that burden hard-working Georgia taxpayers.
Although DCTA is relatively new, already it has achieved some notable successes on behalf of taxpayers. DCTA has successfully advocated for reductions in Dougherty County property tax rates, halted an illegal $6 million “no strings attached” bond issue, and sought accountability for nearly $4 million missing from the local school lunch program.
Currently, DCTA is researching corruption in the county government and in the city of Albany, Georgia. As part of their efforts, DCTA has drafted “A Contract With the Citizens of Albany & Dougherty County, GA” for elected officials and candidates to sign. In addition, DCTA sponsors legal workshops for property owners to educate them about how to challenge disputed property values. You can read about this effort and others on DCTA’s website by clicking here
Welcome to the “New Minority”
According to IRS data, the bottom 50% of wage earners in 2008 paid a total of 2.99% of all taxes – almost none. The top 50% paid 97% after OBAMA’s 2009 cash pay-out to people who pay little or no taxes (so called refundable tax credits) and for the first time in history, over 50% of American citizens will pay no federal taxes in 2010.
What does this mean for
Is this not an insidious form of economic, if not electoral, discrimination when such a vast minority of citizens who control the majority of investment capital, technology, and taxable resources are denied a seat at the table of governance by lesser, if not non-productive, have nots? It is in essence “taxation without representation.”
The same intellectual and capital resources that built this community and nation are now outnumbered, out voted, and void of representation in our city/county commissions, as well as government appointments, now dominated by bureaucrats who have limited or no knowledge of business, commerce, economic or risk capital concepts.
Space does not allow me to list the numerous wasteful government projects (with which we are all familiar) that are sucking the very life blood out of this once vibrant community and driving its greatest human, technological and capital resources out of the area, (the “timeliners”), just biding their time for kids to graduate, a promotion, or retirement, etc. then leave this misery behind.
Most recently, our School Board out-voted 2 prudent members (5 to 2) to by-pass state statutes and appoint an unqualified superintendent with no experience to lead an already broken and inferior public education system that receives a major part of its financial support from 15% of its working citizens, who either have no school age children or pay thousands of dollars more to send their children to private schools. The desperate cries of “foul” from productive (minority) tax paying citizens falls upon ignorant deaf ears. “They know not that they know not and they know not.”
We should not fault directly the members of school boards or city and county commissions who make these egregious decisions, but instead fault the people who elected these incompetent people who serve in these responsible positions. As a “new minority”, our silence only encourages more of the same.
It is no different from Carlton Fletcher’s report of two jurors in the Don Buie trial who refused to be a part of “sending another black man to jail”. If not for a very courageous and ambitious chief assistant D.A., who cut a last minute plea “deal” with Buie’s attorney, Buie would have walked away a free man. Those responsible for his acts still go unpunished, even without a reprimand or suspension.
The only hope for our community is for this “new minority” to rise up, become engaged and involved, demand accountability of its tax dollars spent, encourage qualified truthful and dedicated citizens to run for office, and then elect them by insisting that 80% of us must out-vote the margins of those who (now the majority) practice economic and racial extortion that threatens the very fabric of our community.
Richard R. Thomas, a resident of
37 years, holds a B.S. degree in economics
and a M.B.A. in finance, and is President of
Corporate and Estate Analysts, Inc. an estate
Planning and Wealth Transfer Firm. He can
be reached at email@example.com.
If you have any questions or concerns about our organization, we would like to hear from you. You may write or email us at the address below.
Dougherty County Taxpayers Association
PO Box 50126
Albany, GA 31703-0126