With a strong grassroots effort, an army of volunteers known as Keep the Freeze prevailed on Election Day attracting an impressive 62.3 percent of the vote. They were dramatically outspent by the Thaw the Freeze group but through passion and hard work they won all but one of the local precincts, keeping the freeze on property taxes intact. As they celebrated their victory, the Vote No group drafted a letter to members of Columbus Council and the Muscogee Legislative Delegation. Here is a copy of that letter:
Dear Elected Representatives:
We are a few of your constituents representing the 40,969 citizens who voted to keep our tax freeze. We are grateful to be among the 62.3 percent who voted “No,” carrying every precinct in the county except one. We are some of the volunteers who gave our money, time and energy to help educate fellow citizens about this issue, and in the process we learned a great deal about the tax freeze issue.
We represent no special interests, no big businesses or no organized coalitions. We are simply citizens who want to keep the constitutionally-proven homeowner benefit that allows every homeowner in Muscogee County to have some control over the taxes on his or her personal home.
We are respectfully asking you not to put this issue on the ballot again. It has been upheld three times by Muscogee County citizens at the ballot box and has been ruled constitutional by the Georgia Supreme Court, a ruling that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003. Surely both the people and the courts have spoken adequately on this issue. While we appreciate your position of letting the people vote, we hope you also appreciate the untold hours and the sacrificially-given money that it takes for grassroots citizens to wage such an effort.
In the event that you do find it wise to bring the issue back to the voters in the future, we respectfully request that you make certain the ballot wording clearly indicates to voters that the Local Constitutional Amendment that provides our tax freeze in Muscogee County will be repealed by such a vote. We feel sure that you realize that Article XI, paragraph 4(b) of the Georgia State Constitution makes it clear that Local Constitutional Amendments in Georgia can only be retained or repealed by the voters but cannot be retired, amended, or changed.
We clearly understand that if our tax freeze is to be changed in any way, our Local Constitutional Amendment would have to be repealed. All voters deserve clarity on that issue. Thus, we request that any future ballot wording be understandable and clear and that the intentions of legislators be transparent in that regard.
Thank you for the important work you do on our behalf. We understand that your job is not easy, and we want to be partners working with you for the common good of our entire community.
Best wishes on behalf of Citizens to Keep the Freeze,