One billion dollars is a lot of money.
I’m a member of a growing segment of the population. As we came of age in the 1950s and
1960s, we were often the first member of our families to obtain a college degree. After starting
careers and families, we understood the importance of education as the young lives we brought
into the world quickly went through the educational system. Taxes paid to support schools
didn’t cross our minds as we fought to make sure that our children had every advantage to
We continued to pay taxes to fund education as we struggled with the rising costs of secondary
schools and tried to make sure that the college degree would insure their entry into a world
where they would never be a second-class wage earner.
After almost 40 years of paying taxes to fund the educational system, we were finally able to
reach the place where we could reap some of the benefits of our hard work. This time we
could save a few thousand dollars every year to help during the time when our income would
no longer support our lifestyle. This was also the time that our children needed our help to put
their children through school and save for college.
The Marietta Daily Journal reported that the Cobb County School District just passed a $1 Billion
budget. In the same article, the School District CFO stated: the revenue stream is not what it
needs to be.
The article went on to state that the District has lost out on $270 Million due to Cobb’s Senior
Exemption and the District has seen a substantial increase in employee healthcare costs and
the amount needed to fund teacher retirement.
Something not reported in the MDJ – seniors have seen a substantial increase in healthcare
costs and don’t have a way to fund an increase in retirement.
District Superintendent Ragsdale stated: We literally teeter on budget cuts every single year.
A fact about seniors: many of us literally teeter on budget cuts every month. Food, medicines
and other expenses increase but our income does not grow in proportion to expenses. Our
total property taxes increase even though there is an exemption.
A growing segment of senior citizens could not live in their homes without this tax break.
They’re not just squeaking by on Social Security, but at this stage of life, there is no career to
propel them into the high incomes they enjoyed in the past. They are not on an upward
trajectory for the future, but a downward slide into more expensive health care and likely a
According to public information, the 15,000 employees in the Cobb County School System make
it the county’s largest employer. I’ve served in one of the largest organizations in the world and
worked for a Fortune 100 company. No matter how well disciplined an organization might be
or how important the mission is—there’s an opportunity to find a more efficient or lower cost
way to reach the objectives.
What if the team of people who estimated how much revenue that was “lost by senior
exemption” looked for ways to streamline or reduce costs? What about a committee of retired
citizens to look for ways to increase efficiency? These CPAs, small business owners and
executives from large corporations have experience at managing budgets and using innovative
ideas to complete a mission without spending every dollar.
It would be less expensive than hiring an outside consulting firm AND these people have a
vested interest in Cobb County. After all, they have chosen to live here, pay taxes for this
privilege and have family and friends working for or attending schools here.
Eliminating the Senior Exemption is not the answer to this issue