County Commission Gets Its Increase - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

07/18/02

County Commission Gets Its Increase

It all started two months ago when the county commission voted to increase the school board's tax collection fee from 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent--the maximum amount allowed by Georgia law. This increase costs the board of education more than $1 million. The board of education sued, saying it was unconstitutional and too much money. But today Superior Court judge James Bass ruled the county commission was allowed to raise that rate, shocking board members.

"I'm shocked and disappointed," said board member Lori Brady, "but then again I'm not a judge or a lawyer."

School board president Diane Cantor added, "I'm certainly very disappointed and obviously one always hopes to be victorious in a matter of this importance."

The county commission feels the exact opposite.

"We're obviously very pleased," commented commission chairman Billy Hair. "We thought all along we were right and we're pleased the judge looked at the law and agreed we were right all along."

The school board says it was a hard decision for a judge to make. "If he ruled in our favor he would've had every board of education in the state of Georgia standing up," noted Brady.

And despite the decision, the board of education says the fight isn't over: the local delegation to the Georgia state house and senate will get involved.

"There's one thing in this community people need to remember," said Brady, "and that's the majority of the local delegation supports the board of education on this issue and it will be just a matter of a change in law."

The school board says this is something they will it about with its legal counsel at its next meeting. Superintendent John O'Sullivan was busy with family obilgations but says he is shocked and appalled by the decision, and obviously this story is far from over.

Reported by: Kim Angelastro

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