Letters to the Editor

Assessing the Freeze

In the upcoming early vote starting October 7 and general election on November 8, our priority should be to protect our homes and vote NO in response to the Special Election Question that “eliminates the current base year assessed value homestead exemption.” In 2003 the Georgia Supreme Court decided in a civil suit that “the record thus establishes that all homeowners benefit from the LCA's (Local Constitutional Amendment) inflation control measure, including those homeowners in racial minorities in lower income brackets who are shielded by the LCA from the adverse side effects of gentrification in their neighborhoods.”

The court wisely affirmed protection of homeowners from gentrification, defined as “the buying and renovation of houses and stores in deteriorated urban neighborhoods by upper- or middle-income families or individuals, thus improving property values but often displacing low-income families and small businesses.”

As an example, the Ledger-Enquirer recently reported the recent purchase of the properties at 2100, 2102, 2200 and 2210 Cusseta Road and 2111 North Andrews Circle for $365,800. When developers build newer, more expensive properties on the land, values in the surrounding area will increase. If the tax freeze is not in place, the county tax assessor will evaluate and likely increase the appraised value of the homes in the area, increasing property taxes and potentially making ownership by the current residents unaffordable. Simply stated, a “Yes” vote supports gentrification. A “No” vote retains a law that has served citizens of Columbus well. It vote prevents the continuation and spread of gentrification in Muscogee County. Vote No - protect your home and your neighborhood - Keep The Freeze.

Tollie Strode Jr., Columbus

At others’ expense

My wife and I are the “poster children” for those who “benefit” from the ad valorem “tax freeze.” We bought our home in April of 1962, 54 years ago. We intend to stay here until they “haul us out,” one way or the other.

It cost us $30,000 in 1962 and is “worth” close to 8 or 9 times that in today’s dollars. Our total tax bill, for the schools and the municipal government, is $747.17. The young families who have bought all around us, and who have children, with all of those associated costs and responsibilities, are paying much more taxes on their homes of roughly the same value.

This disparity is not fair. When some of us, me certainly included, are not paying our fair share, someone else has to pay more than their fair share.

Since my retirement, I have been involved with several local efforts with the city government. I have seen close up the financial straits they are faced with. The whole disastrous circumstance with our garbage trucks is an example -- had we the money all along, it would have never come to being 35 trucks down. We just don't have the money to keep up and will fall further and further behind.

Finally, there is absolutely no reason, if you are like me and presently own your home and are “benefitting” from the freeze, to vote against retiring it. This measure provides that if you are presently frozen, you stay frozen. It is not going to affect us one iota. So, if none of the other reasons reach you, please realize that lifting the freeze is not going to impact you at all. Help the rest of us remove this anchor which is holding Columbus back.

Milton Jones, Columbus

Hometown pride

Seldom is there much to boast of emanating from the west bank nowadays, but please allow me to mention a few. The efforts of Chef John Chapiewski at Central High most certainly deserve recognition. His Brick Bistro epitomizes vocational training at its best. To observe Chapiewski's students is to observe disciplined intelligent young men and women with serious lifetime ambitions. Thanks, Chef, for lighting candles in an otherwise often darkened tunnel.

People of Phenix City also have reason to be proud of Glenwood School with its highest enrollment ever. Glenwood recently released its College Board scores and they were exceptional, the real barometer of education.

And the people of Phenix City should be most proud of the academic achievements of both Lakewood Elementary and Lakewood Primary schools. Both schools annually receive excellent 8 ratings by Great Schools.com, the foremost authority on such matters based on test scores.

Please give us some positive exposure for a change. Life is not all bad on the "West Bank."

Greg Glass, Phenix City

Columbus memories

We moved to Columbus from Dothan, Ala., in 1941. Daddy went from chopping and picking cotton to spinning it.

I have a lot of good memories of Columbus; however, one that really stands out is the Municipal Swimming Pool near Bibb City. The fee was low enough for a mill worker’s kid, and it was always full. We had a lifeguard, and I cannot recollect anyone getting hurt or any real troublemakers. It was a gathering place for kids of all ages. It was well maintained and “policed.”

I wish I could remember all the friends I made there, but, of course, I can’t. I do know that if every town had a pool like we had in Columbus, more kids would be wet and tired, not high and lost.

Pearly C. Watson,

Davenport, Fla.