Dist. 5 can­di­date res­i­dency in ques­tion

GOP hope­ful has homestead in Dist. 4

The Covington News - - Front Page - By Rachel Oswald

There may be a qual­i­fi­ca­tion is­sue for Tim Flem­ing, Repub­li­can can­di­date for District 5, stem­ming from a homestead ex­emp­tion filed on a house he owns that is out­side of the district.

Flem­ing has a homestead ex­emp­tion for 35 Mandy Lane, a prop­erty lo­cated well within the bound­aries of District 4, ac­cord­ing to the New­ton County Road Map of Novem­ber 2007.

On his dec­la­ra­tion of can­di­dacy, which he filled out in April when he qual­i­fied to run for of­fice, Flem­ing listed his res­i­dency as be­ing 1194 Floyd Street. Ac­cord­ing to the Pub­lic Ac­cess Prop­erty Por­tal, that prop­erty is owned by Es­ther Flem­ing, his fa­ther and the cur­rent com­mis­sioner for District 3.

New­ton County Elec­tions Su­per­vi­sor Donna Mor­ri­son said she did not know that Flem­ing had a homestead ex­emp­tion for a prop­erty lo­cated out­side of District 5, when asked about the mat­ter.

“At this point a chal­lenge hasn’t been raised [to Flem­ing’s can­di­dacy],” Mor­ri­son said. “When and if that hap­pens, the board [ of Elec­tions] will deal with it ac­cord­ing to the law.”

Flem­ing said the ex­emp­tion for the Mandy Lane home, lo­cated in the Or­chard Park sub­di­vi­sion, was first claimed in Jan­uary. He and his wife moved to the house on Floyd Street in March he said.

“My wife and I have al­ways wanted to live in town,” Flem­ing said. “My fa­ther and I bought [the Floyd Street home] to­gether.”

Flem­ing said the New­ton County char­ter only re­quires candidates to live in the com­mis­sion district they are run­ning for, for at least six months

prior to the gen­eral elec­tion. In which case, Flem­ing will have met the res­i­dency re­quire­ments this month.

How­ever, the is­sue at hand seems to lie with the homestead ex­emp­tion, which can only be claimed on a prop­erty that is the owner’s pri­mary res­i­dence.

Last Septem­ber, Gigi Shinall a can­di­date for the Por­terdale City Coun­cil was deemed in­el­i­gi­ble to run for of­fice when the Por­terdale elec­tions su­per­in­ten­dent ruled that a homestead ex­emp­tion for a house she owned out­side of city lim­its, pre­cluded her from run­ning for of­fice, de­spite the fact that she had lived in an apart­ment at the Por­terdale Mill Lofts for a year.

Ac­cord­ing to a press release from Karen Han­del, Ge­or­gia sec­re­tary of state, Ge­or­gia law states that the “spe­cific ad­dress in the county or mu­nic­i­pal­ity in which a per­son has de­clared a homestead ex­emp­tion, if a homestead ex­emp­tion has been claimed, shall be deemed the per­son's res­i­dence ad­dress.”

Homestead ex­emp­tions are viewed by the state as “the le­gal res­i­dence and domi­cile of the ap­pli­cant for all pur­poses what­ever,” ac­cord­ing to the release from Han­del.

Tommy Knight, chief ap­praiser for the New­ton County Tax As­ses­sor’s Of­fice said there was a 2008 homestead ex­emp­tion reg­is­tered for Flem­ing for the Mandy Lane home and that his prop­erty tax bill went out with the ex­emp­tion on it.

Flem­ing said he claimed the ex­emp­tion in Jan­uary be­cause that was the only time of the year the ex­emp­tion could be claimed. He said he would shift the ex­emp­tion to his Floyd Street home in Jan­uary 2009. The Mandy Lane home has been on the mar­ket for sev­eral months now he said.

Flem­ing said the homestead ex­emp­tion was “re­ally a moot is­sue.”

“This is pol­i­tics as usual in New­ton County,” Flem­ing said. “I’m not go­ing to let this de­rail the cam­paign. I’m gonna run a clean race.”

Randy Vin­son, Flem­ing’s Demo­cratic op­po­nent for District 5, listed 450 Jenk­ins Road as his ad­dress in his dec­la­ra­tion of can­di­dacy. His home is lo­cated in­side District 5, ac­cord­ing to the New­ton County Road Map of Novem­ber 2007. He also has a homestead ex­emp­tion for the prop­erty, ac­cord­ing to Knight.

FLEM­ING

New­ton County Road Map 2007

House on Mandy Lane: The ar­row points to the prop­erty listed as Tim Flem­ing’s res­i­dence un­der homestead ex­emp­tion, which falls within District 4. Flem­ing is run­ning as the Repub­li­can can­di­date for the District 5 Board of Com­mis­sion­ers seat.

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