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Letter to the editor - Stop picking on seniors
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Dear Editor: I take exception to the statement in the Our thoughts editorial of May 12th, 2010, wherein it was stated:

..the majority of county voters made an unwise decision a few years back to approve a senior homestead tax exemption..

 I checked the Newton County website to see exactly what this exemption is and who qualifies. The pertinent section reads: homestead exemption from Newton County ad valorem taxes for maintenance and operations purposes in the amount of $30,000.00 of the assessed value of the homestead for residents of that county who are 65 years or over whose annual adjusted net income does not exceed $25,000.00.

 Are you implying that giving our senior citizens over the age of 65 who make less than $25,000 a year a $30,000 exemption on the valuation of their property (at last year’s millage rate that amounts to about a $380/year tax break) will break the bank? Just how many seniors in Newton County actually qualify for this break? What is the total loss of tax revenue as a result of this break? Someone at your paper needs to do their homework before they start criticizing the voters for lending a helping hand to seniors with income near or below the federal poverty level (depending on how many individuals live at the home).

 There must be other ways to balance the budget, like having the county government upper management take mandatory unpaid furlough every month like the rest of the county workers.

 Quit complaining about giving our low income seniors a well deserved break.

Darryl Trimm


 Editor’s note: This statement is on the Newton County Tax Assessor’s website regarding the senior exemption: "Income from retirement sources, pensions, and disability income is excluded up to the maximum amount allowed to be paid to an individual and his spouse under the federal Social Security Act. The social security maximum benefit for 2005 is $46,536."

 Therefore, seniors who make up to $71,536 a year qualify for the exemption.