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As of last month, there were more than 6,630 homes in foreclosure in DeKalb. That means that one in every 346 housing unit in DeKalb is under foreclosure.

By Dr. Eugene Walker

On June 11, the DeKalb County Board of Education will vote on $73 million in cuts to our children’s education. The proposed cuts include teachers, librarians, teachers’ aides and other essential school staff. Our board is also looking at cutting pre-k classes, special bus routes and other necessary programs. Essential programs like these will continue to be on the chopping block across the state if Georgia does not make a strong decision to contribute more money to educating our children. Residents in DeKalb – and across Georgia – need to realize that education is not free. Our state will never advance unless we make a concerted decision to invest in our future and contribute more financially to improve our education system. In DeKalb, we may ask our residents to pay another 1 mill in taxes to help educate the district’s nearly 100,000 students.

There also is an easy solution to help educate children throughout Georgia without taxing residents: Expand the Georgia Lottery. Eugene Walker This would be a way to raise more revenue to fund pre-k classes and the HOPE scholarship – something that has helped send thousands of my county’s and the state’s children to college. The Georgia Lottery Board has the authority to expand the lottery with Video Lottery Terminals in a secure facility. The proposal to build a mixed-use entertainment complex in Gwinnett County will generate more than $350 million a year for the HOPE scholarship, pre-k classes and other important educational programs. This is money that is currently going to other states. Georgians already spend an estimated $200 million a year gambling at venues in Mis-

sissippi, Florida, North Carolina and other nearby states that allow gaming. This is money that should be staying in Georgia to help our students. In three years, the HOPE scholarship will pay for less than 50 percent of eligible students’ tuition costs. That number will continue to decrease, only hurting our students. Decreased lottery revenue has also led to drastic cuts to pre-k. DeKalb and other districts rely on lottery dollars to fund most of the program. Last year, the state increased pre-k class sizes, cut 20 days and slashed teacher pay. This cut forced our district to have to use local tax dollars to supplement the program to minimize the impact on our students. Research has shown that students who attend pre-k are more likely to succeed in school. A study by the National Center for Public Education found that children who attended pre-k scored higher on reading and math tests than

children who did not attend pre-k. The study found that third-graders who attended pre-k had better reading skills. Just last month, for the first time ever, Georgia’s lottery-funded pre-k program received a 10 out of 10 ranking from the National Institute of Early Education Research, which assesses teaching quality in early childhood education. Georgia was one of only five states to meet this exceptional standard. This is something we should be proud of and continue. It is essential that we maximize the dollars to early childhood education by fully funding pre-k in DeKalb and throughout Georgia. One simple way to accomplish this is to bring more revenue to the lottery with a gaming facility in Gwinnett. Please help our children get the best education available by encouraging the state to expand the Georgia Lottery. Dr. Eugene Walker, a former educator, is chairman of the DeKalb Board of Education.

Diligence on assessments could lower your tax bill Your property may look the same as last year, but the value of your home may have changed significantly. With the average DeKalb County home value dropping 6 percent, it is essential that homeowners know how to appeal their new appraisal notices to ensure their tax bill is correct. In unincorporated parts of the county, the average drop was 8 percent. On May 29, the Board of Tax Assessors mailed new appraisals, notifying owners if their residence or business has increased or lost value. Some property values will remain consistent, but many  lost value. Some will see an inflated value that will require correction. Why do these values matter if you are not planning to sell your home? The short answer is

they impact how much you will pay on your tax bill. The county computes your bill by multiplying the millage rate by your property’s asElaine Boyer sessed value minus any exemptions. The assessed value is 40 percent of the appraised value. While it may seem like a small move of the needle in terms of value, an appeal could mean extra money in your pocket. With unemployment still hovering at 9.7 percent in DeKalb, every dollar our families pay counts. That’s why it is important that each property owner carefully inspect their notices. There are two opportunities when you can appeal a new ap-

Quick Read

praisal: n If your new value is greater than the fair market value, or n If your value is greater than comparable homes in your neighborhood. It only takes a few minutes of research online to find the values of your neighbors’ property at http://web.co.dekalb.ga.us/propertyappraisal/. To determine if your property is fairly assessed, look at other homes of similar age, square footage, lot sizes and amenities. If your property has dropped a great deal from last year’s value and is not consistent with similar homes in your area, you may want to appeal your assessment. Act quickly – appeals must be filed within 45 days from when the notice is mailed or before mid-July. Complicating the values in many neighborhoods is a record number of foreclosures. As of last

month, there were more than 6,630 homes in foreclosure in DeKalb, according to RealtyTrac, which uses statewide data. That means that one in every 346 housing unit in DeKalb is under foreclosure. These defaults not only effect appraisals and market prices in our neighborhoods, but impact the entire county’s net worth. For example, last month Clarkston was ranked among the 10 cities in Georgia that saw the largest sales price drop: 16.3 percent, according to RealtyTrac. The average sale price for a home was $64,730. These drastic drops have impacted our entire county, leaving many with a property appraised much higher than we could ever make on a sale in today’s market. Do your homework. If you have a case, think about filing an appeal. Elaine Boyer represents District 1 on the DeKalb Board of Commis-

School Board weighs tax hike, furloughs to span shortfall 1

Tropical storms get a jump on hurricane season 6

New salary structure to save schools over $2 million 8

DeKalb property owners could see their taxes increase, and teachers could see larger class sizes and other changes under a cost-cutting proposal being considered.

Homeowners are encouraged to prepare for as many as eight named tropical storms during the 2012 hurricane season.

A new aligned salary structure is expected to save the DeKalb School System more than $2 million over the next three years, the district announced on May 24.

I-285 bridge closed for interchange work

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The I-285/Ashford Dunwoody Interchange Bridge will be closed this weekend to allow work crews to complete construction on the state’s first diverging diamond interchange.

DeKalb awarded EPA grants 5

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June 2, 2012

Investing in our kids’ education is not an option

By Elaine Boyer

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DeKalb County will receive $900,000 in brownfields grants to clean up and revitalize targeted corridors and communities with contaminated properties.

Hillandale breast center to enhance care for women 6 Women in South DeKalb, Rockdale and Newton counties now have a larger Comprehensive Breast Center at DeKalb Medical Hillandale in Lithonia.

Residents urged to start preparing for storms

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Tropical Storm Alberto, which hovered along the South Carolina and Georgia coastlines last week, brought an early start to the June 1-Nov. 30 Atlantic hurricane season.

Library extends personalized brick program 9 Rrhond Sanchez is a self-described “voracious reader” and libraries are some of her most favorite places.

Donation helps fund book purchase

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Students who use the Scottdale-Tobie Grant Homework Center now have 88 new books compliments of DeKalb Commissioner Kathie Gannon.

index to advertisers 2012 Family & Back-to-School Expo..............12 Atlanta Premier SMO..................................... 11 Burrell Ellis for DeKalb CEO............................ 3 Cash Rentals....................................................1 DeKalb Community Development Dept.......... 5 DeKalb Medical Center................................... 7

Executive Cuts................................................ 11 LBJ Realty...................................................... 11 North DeKalb Mall..........................................9 Obama Academic Center............................... 11 Project Home Improvement.......................... 11 Quenon Smith............................................... 11

Salon Cleopatra............................................. 11 Savannah State University............................... 8 Solution Heating and Air............................... 11 Soul Discount Fabrics..................................... 11 Tees of Power................................................ 11

The Exchange................................................ 11 Vision Marketing Systems.............................. 11 Best Buy Co. Inc......................................Inserts Holistic Health Management Inc.............Inserts Walgreens...............................................Inserts

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