JONESBORO—Three candidates for mayor, two of whom have mounted court challenges over their qualifying for the race, took part in a candidate forum at council chambers following the city council candidates' forum.
Incumbent Mayor Joy Day picked up a thread from the council candidates' discussion, which called for improved communications between City Hall and residents. "I'd like to invite you to look at our website, to read our newsletter, to sign up for the phone tree, to look at our Facebook page, our Twitter page, and our Instagram page."
Miller, who is challenging Day, said "Jonesboro needs a different direction. It needs to be the citizens and the small businesses brought back together and wonder about the businesses and the small businesses that support them, they will bring in more business. If you make the citizens happy here, they can talk to other citizens and bring them in here. And I'd like to see Jonesboro one place again instead of two or three different divided places and areas."
Councilman Alfred Dixon, who has been disqualified from the race but has appealed to Superior Court, said "For the past three years as council member, mayor pro tem, I tell you, it has been the most amazing experience of my whole entire life." Dixon said he was "really excited" about the opportunities ahead for the city, particularly the 2020 Census.
The first question, "Can you explain homestead exemption in Jonesboro and how it will affect me as a homeowner?" drew a pass from Councilman Dixon.
Miller jumped on the question: "It gives you a tax break for one, and that can help you spend more money elsewhere like at small business in different stuff."
Day answered, "If you are a property owner, you have the right to to apply for homestead exemption on your primary residence. The county taxes you on 60% of whatever your assessed value is. So if your home is assessed for $100,000 you only pay taxes on 40% because you only pay taxes. Own a, wait a minute, let me think. Yeah, so they're 60 $60,000 you pay taxes on $60,000 as per the millage rate. However, in Jonesboro we have a $60,000 homestead exemption, so that would put you at zero for taxes. So until we raise the millage rate or until your house value goes up, you still would pay no taxes in the city of Jonesboro, you're automatically taxed in Clayton County on 60% of the assessed value of your home. So when you get your tax bill, if it says assessed today, your, that's what you're taxed on per mill that the County made. And we all have to pay County taxes. But right now in Jonesboro, there are no taxes on our homeowners. We have to protect our property owners."
Why do the candidates want to be mayor?
Jarrett reiterated his pro-business stance and appealed to tradition. "I'd like to bring it back together like it used to be instead of three or four different divided areas. Like I said, you need to support the business owners."
Day said the city is working on "several projects...some of which I've written grants for." Day said she has written $3 million in grants: "That's free money that the city received to work on projects." She also noted "some upcoming things which we're going to have to negotiate with the county," adding she thinks it's "very important that we have someone who's knowledgeable and who can do that negotiation and hold the line for the city. I've already negotiated local option sales tax before and our service delivery plan, and I'm going to negotiate it again if I'm re-elected."
Dixon was thoughtful in his response. "I look out in the audience right now and, and I see people who aren't necessarily speaking up for themselves or who, who can't speak up for themselves. So I definitely want to make sure that voice, that voice is there for the, for the entire community and make sure that we're all included as we press forward. You know, it's not just about Main Street but it is about all the streets in Jonesboro, and we just have to keep that in mind as we do press forward."
You can watch the entire candidate forum (both council and mayoral races) at https://bit.ly/2OBOpbe.