Georgia Slave Descendants Could Lose Homes in Tax Battle

Residents of Georgia's Sapelo Island are fighting local officials over tax hikes of up to 600 percent.  

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The Georgia coast (YouTube)

In a battle that could wipe out one of the nation's oldest African-American communities, residents of Georgia's Sapelo Island are locked in a fight with local officials over tax hikes of up to 600 percent. As a result, residents of the small Hog Hammock community say they could be taxed out of their homes and forced to sell their family land, the Daily Mail reports.

Families, many of them the ancestors of slaves, began a second round of appeals Monday with the McIntosh County Board of Equalization. In January the board ordered assessors to recalculate land values of the island, but appraisals still remain above values from two years ago.

McIntosh County officials say that property tax values had remained artificially low, and they are now "trying to create a tax that reflects how much the land is worth," according to the Daily Mail.

Residents say they aren't receiving the level of local services needed to reflect the tax hike. Since 1978 the island has not had a school, and residents must dump their own trash instead of receiving sanitation service.

Hog Hammock is one of the last Gullah-Geechee communities of slave descendants remaining on the Southeast coast.

It is located on the coast of Georgia, south of Savannah, and can only be accessed by plane or ferry. 

Read more at the Daily Mail.

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