Ray awarded by elected state officers

CONYERS - Rockdale County Tax Commissioner Dan Ray has been named Georgia's 2008 Constitutional Officer of the Year by the Constitutional Officers' Association of Georgia.

Ray, entering his fifth term as tax commissioner, received the award over five other elected officials from across the state, including retired Rockdale County Clerk of Courts Joanne Caldwell. The association chooses the award's recipient each year by a majority vote of the group's 636 members.

Ray was recognized in December for his work in 2008 to bring public awareness and educate policy makers about a plan introduced by state House Speaker Glenn Richardson that would have replaced property taxes with sales taxes.

That plan was eventually defeated in the General Assembly.

Ray attended and testified at several legislative committee meetings during deliberations of the bill, dubbed the GREAT Plan, and proposed to replace locally collected property taxes with a statewide homestead option sales tax in combination with new taxes levied on previously untaxed services.

"It was COAG's intention to not be pro or con on the GREAT Plan but just get information out to the public and others groups, like the local school boards, try to understand it and figure out how it would affect everybody," Ray said. "As information came out the consensus appeared that people wanted to hold their local officials accountable to run the county and school system."

Ray was also recognized for his previous work to raise the officers' salaries through state legislation. The bill simplified the minimum salary schedules for the Constitutional officers by standardizing and unifying the population brackets amongst all four groups: clerk of courts, tax commissioners, sheriffs and probate judges.

Ray has also served as the association's secretary-treasurer, vice-president, and president-elect. The Constitutional Officers' Association is the "umbrella" association for the four Constitutional officers composed of the probate judges, clerks of Superior Court, sheriffs and tax commissioners for all of Georgia's 159 counties.

Jay Jones can be reached at jay.jones@rockdalecitizen.com.