Before the commissioners debate next year’s budget in the Historic Courthouse at 7 p.m. tonight, Newton County’s political parties will take to the square to give their thoughts on property taxes and county jobs.
The Newton County Democratic Party is going to have a counter rally at 6 p.m., tonight at the square to show support for Democratic commissioners J.C. Henderson, Nancy Schulz and Earnest Simmons. The Democratic party won’t have any speakers, but they will have handouts of information about taxes, said Sarah Todd, local Democratic committee member.
Todd said that the Republicans are portraying themselves as having always been against property tax increases, but she said that when the property values increased in past years and the commissioners voted for the same millage rate, they effectively raised taxes.
Elizabeth Christian, 1st vice chair of the local Republican party, said that in past years the county’s population was growing, which necessitated more tax money for county services. This year with the decline in county services in areas like housing, the government should look to pare those services before raising the millage rate.
In addition to the handouts, Democratic members will have signs supporting their commissioners and will speak with any interested citizens, Newton County Democratic Chairman Jerry Childers said.
Childers said the democrats will do whatever is in the best interest of the county. He said they want to save public safety jobs and support a small property tax increase if that is the best way to save those jobs.
The Republican party is having its rally at 6 p.m. at the square as well, and State Senator John Douglas (R-Social Circle) and Chairman Ester Fleming will speak in opposition to both raising property taxes and cutting public safety jobs.
Christian said all taxpayers who oppose property taxes are invited, not just Republicans. After the rally, the Republicans will go to the Historic Courthouse around 6:30 p.m. to speak to the commissioners before the budget meeting. No public comments will be allowed during or after the meeting.
Childers said members of the Democratic party spoke to their commissioners at Tuesday night’s monthly Democratic party, so party members most likely will not speak to the Board of Commissioners before the budget work session.