ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Alpharetta’s plan to hold a referendum this fall to raise the local homestead exemption will go nowhere unless it wins support under the Gold Dome.
First, a member of the state House or Senate must propose legislation allowing for the question to be placed on the ballot. Then, the measure must be approved by a super majority — two-thirds in favor — in the House and Senate.
Sounds easy, but in the case of split votes, like the 4-3 tally cast by the Alpharetta City Council Feb. 3, it can become complicated.
“It is not uncommon for local delegations in the Legislature to have rules, written or otherwise, that allude to unanimous decisions coming from their local delegations,” said State Rep. Chuck Martin, an Alpharetta resident and former mayor.
In general, Martin said, local legislators like to see unanimity from their city councils when proposing something as permanent as a homestead exemption.
“In our delegation, as I recall, we don’t have a hard and fast rule on that right now,” Martin said. “I would hope that they would keep working toward a resolution.”
Martin said it’s always easier to secure passage of something like a homestead exemption in the Legislature if you have a unanimous vote from a city council. Sometimes, he said, legislators from outside the area will still ask whether everyone is on board with the proposal.
The good news, Martin said, is that the Legislature has adjourned until Feb. 18, giving everyone time to get together and talk.
“As a homeowner, I’ve never met a homestead exemption that I didn’t like, as long as it wouldn’t put our city in a financial hole,” he said. “Personally, I hope we can get to a place where everyone’s on the same page, and we can bring this to the taxpayers.”