The best-known proposal, championed by Speaker of the House Glenn Richardson, R-Hiram, would replace all ad valorem taxes with an expanded sales tax that covers services and items such as prescriptions and groceries that are currently exempt.
Jim Ogletree, president of United Bank, is concerned that Richardson’s proposal would take away control of monies from local entities.
“The control of the money leaves the local hands,” he said. “Then you’re at the mercy of whatever the state wants to do, allocating the money.”
John Rainwater, senior vice president of United Bank and this year’s chairman of the Griffin-Spalding Chamber of Commerce, shares Ogletree’s concerns.
“If you do away with all the property tax and all the ad valorem tax, on the surface, that is an extremely good way to go,” he said. “The problem with that then comes in how the money gets back to the cities and counties and school boards.”
He said a similar situation would be if the federal government took over all tax collection from the states and then distributed the money back, taking away state control.
“It’s going to have to be looked at very hard,” he said.
Bill Pike prefers Richardson’s proposal.
“That’s the only fair way to do it,” he said.
However, he suspects the plan could ignite a political brouhaha.
“I don’t know how they can do it,” he said. “How can the state control the county taxes? I think the county’s going to fight back.”
Griffin resident Alec Tate wonders what trade-offs the tax plans will have.
“They’re going to compensate for that and they’re going to add to that somewhere else,” he said. “Of course, the ad valorem tax, I’d love for it to go away, but I don’t want to have it somewhere else. Nothing’s ever free.”
“It depends on how much they’re going to expand the sales tax,” said Patricia All, who works as a teller at a Bank of America located outside of Griffin.
She said she would enjoy not having to pay ad valorem taxes, but if sales taxes go up too much, she would not benefit from the change.
Rainwater thinks Perdue’s proposal to exempt senior citizens from the income tax is a good idea.
“It probably is a good idea,” he said. “That demographic group is a good group to try to entice to come to the state.”
Rainwater also likes the plan supported by state Sen. John Douglas, R-Social Circle, to abolish the income tax entirely and compensate with a modest increase of the sales tax.
“As far as just funding the general income of the state, a sales tax would be a much better route to go than just an income tax,” Rainwater said. “It’s the fairer tax, I think.”