Tax shortfall to cost Columbus $8.8 million

By Ben Wrightbenw@ledger-enquirer.com

A shortfall in state tax revenues and Gov. Sonny Perdue's announcement to hold local tax funds will cost the city of Columbus and the Muscogee County School District about $8.8 million. Perdue announced the state will hold funds paid to local governments for the Homestead Tax Relief Grant after learning that state tax revenues face a projected $1.6 billion shortfall. The impact to the city is about $3.6 million and $5.1 million to the school district, Judy Thomas, executive assistant to Mayor Jim Wetherington, said in a statement. The governor and the General Assembly first authorized the Homestead Tax Relief Grant in 1999. For owner occupied homes, the exemption is now worth up to $8,000 in value. It is shown as an ad valorem tax credit if you recently received a property tax bill.

During the first six months of a fiscal year, the law allows the governor to hold any appropriations for possible budget reductions if the appropriations are thought to exceed actual revenues for the year. Perdue may hold the appropriation but the power to reduce or abolish it belongs exclusively to the General Assembly.

Peggy Connell, the interim superintendent of the Muscogee County School District this month, was unavailable for comment.