Monday, October 29, 2007

The problem with property taxes

I live in a county that is mail ballot only. Currently my ballot has not been opened and it sits on my kitchen counter. On it contains a proposed state constitutional amendment to allow School District Levies to pass with simple majority rather than the strong majority of 60%.

Who could be against that? I mean everyone I work with is going to vote for it because they support local schools and thinks it's very unfair and undemocratic for, let's say, 53% of people to approve a levy yet still have it fail. Who could be against that? Well, me for starters.

Here though is something to consider. The taxes for school levies are based upon a percentage of assessed land value and paid only by land owners. If you live in the school district and don't own land you are still eligible to vote yes or no on the tax. More to the point, someone can vote to impose a tax on their neighbor but not on themselves. This fact alone will cause me to vote NO on it. As a product of public schools I have since decided to not be a consumer of it later in life. After leaving a public high school...I did not take a tax payer subsidized loan for college and I did not go to a state school. Basically I paid my own way completely.

I don't think having a 60% majority is a perfect answer but it does actually address the flawed premise and allows for a 10% buffer to protect the fewer voters who are actually going to be imposed with the tax. I'd prefer that schools were paid for with some other means though I must confess I don't have any concrete ideas. Having read our state constitution one of its few enumerated responsibilities is to provide "ample funding" for schools. Maybe the need for local school levies was never intended by the people who founded our dumb state.

Maybe we'll eventually get away from the idea of taxing people simply because they own a place to live. Looks like tonight I'm going to be voting NO on lots of stuff.

Remember to vote in your own upcoming elections.

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