NEWTON COUNTY – Earlier this month, voters in Newton County voted to pass a homestead exemption from school district property taxes for senior citizens in a special county-wide election.
The vote went overwhelmingly in favor of the exemption, passing in a 7,548-990 vote, per the official election results posted on the Newton County website. Those equate to 88.4 percent ‘yes’ and 11.6 percent ‘no.’
There were no unresolved write-ins.
However, that same data also shows that there were 79,904 voters that were eligible to vote in the special election. This equates to a 10.72 percent voter turnout.
With the voter turnout resulting in that percentage, many in Newton County may find themselves confused on what the new exemption means.
Dr. Duke Bradley III, superintendent of Newton County Schools provided a bit more insight on the exemption in hopes to clarify what this means for the citizens of Newton County.
The Covington News sent the following questionnaire to Bradley and received the following responses:
Q: For those who are unfamiliar or don’t know what it is, what exactly is the homestead exemption?
A: Voters have recently endorsed a measure to increase the exemption from Newton County School District ad valorem taxation for residents aged 65 or older to $50,000.
Q: Who does this exemption primarily affect?
A: This exemption applies as long as the combined annual retirement income of the individual and their spouse residing at the homestead does not surpass $100,552 for the immediately preceding taxable year. Alternatively, the exemption also extends to those whose non-retirement income and the non-retirement income of the spouse residing within the homestead do not exceed $25,000 plus the maximum amount allowed under the Federal Social Security Act for the immediately preceding taxable year.
Q: What is the day to day impact of this exemption?
A: The school district’s primary funding source is local taxes. It’s difficult to assess the specific impact that the new law will have on the system but, we will be able to make a more accurate assessment in the coming months.