EDITORIAL: Board controversy can be easily resolved

Published 8:33 pm Thursday, July 13, 2017

It’s a controversy that could be settled easily. Members of the Dallas County Board of Education are sparring over whether board member Carolyn Bates lives in her district.

The matter came to a head last week when the board approved a resolution asking the district attorney’s office to investigate if Bates is in compliance with a requirement that she lives in District 3.

The resolution comes after the Alabama Department of Examiners of Public Accounts found that Bates applied for and was granted a homestead for a residential property in District 4.

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A homestead allows a taxpayer to pay less in property taxes on a single-family, owner-occupied dwelling than they would on say an investment property.

According to the Alabama Department of Revenue, a property owner may be entitled to a homestead exception if he or she owns a single-family residence and occupies it as their primary residence on the first day of the tax year for which they are applying.

Board members say the homestead is proof that Bates lives in a district other than the one she represents.

Bates says she owns property throughout Dallas County and questions about her residency are due to an error when she filed a homestead exemption for a family member that lives in District 4.

“I filed a tax exemption, yes I did, by mistake and error. I’ve taken care of that, so there is no more issue,” Bates said.

However, the school board plans to press forward with their investigation by the district attorney’s office.

Her fellow board members are asking the D.A. office to require Bates to prove by what authority she holds her position.

After all, the entire issue could be resolved easily if Bates proved where she resides. That’s not too much to ask for, especially after the confusion over the homestead.

Bates repeatedly declined to say where she lived or what address she qualified to run for office with during an interview with the Times-Journal earlier this week.

It’s time for Bates to prove she lives in her district. Voters in the county deserve to have the matter cleared up. The answer to that will either vindicate Bates or she should resign and allow a resident of that district to serve.

Regardless, the issue is a distraction for the board’s main objective of making sure Dallas County students receive the best education possible and should be quickly resolved.