In the race for tax commissioner of Newton County, two-term incumbent Republican Barbara Dingler is challenged by Democrat Nicholas Day, a retired employee of the Henry County Tax Commissioner’s Office.
While Dingler is campaigning on a platform of continuing to improve the Tax Commissioner’s Office through things like allowing customers to pay their taxes using credit cards, Day is campaigning on the promise that he will work to eliminate school property taxes for all senior citizens.
"If I’m elected tax commissioner and as a citizen of Newton County I have the right to ask for a referendum to eliminate the senior citizens from the school tax, which I would ask for," Day said. "If this referendum is supported then we’d send it to the voters."
Dingler, however, said the tax commissioner does not set tax policy for the Board of Commissioners or the Board of Education, but serves to advise them.
"I am not the one who can grant it," Dingler said. "My duty as tax commissioner is to bill, collect and distribute."
Day, who at age 63 is two years away from being a senior himself, said he felt that senior citizens in the county, regardless of their income levels, deserve a break on their taxes.
"The county’s tax base on property taxes will still remain," he said. "Everybody knows it’s pressing times. During these pressing times, the people that are on fixed incomes are those that suffer the most."
Day said he believed eliminating all school property taxes for seniors would only constitute a "small portion" of the Newton County School System’s revenue stream. In June he said he believed the BOE was wasting some of their funding.
"I think the amount taken away by senior citizens would be insignificant," he said.
If reelected, Dingler said she would continue to "follow all of the rules and regulations of the state of Georgia."
An employee of the Newton County Tax Commissioner’s Office for 23 years, Dingler has served as the tax commissioner for the past 9 years. In addition to trying to bring credit card payments back, Dingler said she has also implemented a system that allows residents to renew their motor vehicle registration over the Internet.
She said she has also brought back the filing of homestead exemptions into the Tax Commissioner’s Office from the Board of Assessors where the business had been handled previously.
"We’ve already had over 550 homestead exemption applications since April 1, she said, adding, "I have cross-trained all my staff and they can now do motor vehicles and [home] property to better service the citizens of the county."
Born in Newton County, Dingler and her husband, Keith, have two children. She was promoted to property tax supervisor in 1987 and deputy tax commissioner in 1998.
"I enjoy doing my duties to the citizens of the county and hopefully I will be able to continue doing that," Dingler said.
If elected, Day said he would treat the citizens of Newton County in "a well-behaved manner" and answer all of the questions that residents may have about their taxes.
"I would look around and analyze everything that’s going on there and see where I could be a benefit to the citizens of Newton County," Day said. "I would think about putting a computer system that would allow [residents] to put in the data themselves to see which homestead exemption would be the best use to them."
Day spent 10 years working for Henry County’s Tax Commissioner’s Office where he was the division director of occupational tax and alcoholic beverages. Prior to that, he worked for 30 years as an information systems manager. He has lived in Newton County since 1976 and lives with his wife, Melinda.
"Voters will vote for me because I will take the office seriously, treat all citizens of Newton County with respect and at the same time look for any possible way that I might help them decreasing their taxes if possible," Day said.