Brookhaven is looking to give homeowners a break in property taxes.
The City Council unanimously approved a motion Tuesday night in support of an increased homestead exemption, which can be applied for by taxpayers who own the house they live in.
City officials urged the Georgia General Assembly to pass a bill allowing for a referendum on the measure. If the bill passes, Brookhaven residents would be able to vote on the ballot referendum this fall.
Over five years, the homestead exemptions for Brookhaven homeowners would double, according to the city’s resolution. The exemption for seniors and people with disabilities would increase nearly sixfold.
“This legislation protects affordable housing as well as lowers the overall tax burden for these homesteaded property owners. All homesteaded homeowners will get property tax relief,” Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst said in a statement.
It would be the first homestead exemption increase for Brookhaven since it became a city in 2012.
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If the referendum were to pass, the homestead exemption would gradually increase from $20,000 to $40,000 over a five-year period starting in tax year 2020. This would lead to a reduction in city property taxes by an average of $52.50 each year for homeowners who claim the exemption, the city estimated.
Homeowners who are disabled and those over 65 currently get an additional $14,000 exemption. Under the proposed Brookhaven exemptions, those taxpayers would see that extra exemption balloon to $160,000 over five years.
Brookhaven estimated the economic impact of the tax breaks would total $2 million over five years.
A task force for affordable housing has been studying the issue for months and made the recommendations to the City Council.
“This measure benefits homeowners by reducing property taxes, especially for our seniors and the disabled, who often need it most. I hope that DeKalb County Government and DeKalb Schools will explore similar tax reductions,” District 1 Councilmember Linley Jones said in a statement. “Governments are all too often quick to spend every taxpayer dollar. Very few governments self-impose tax reductions.”
It was unclear Wednesday afternoon if a bill had been filed on the issue. Generally, local legislation is not subject to the restrictions of Crossover Day, which was last Thursday. It was the day statewide bills generally must pass one chamber of the General Assembly to have a chance at becoming law this year.
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