Thursday, October 11, 2007

RK scaremongering on Tax Rates

Lowell at RK is a pretty smart guy, so I'm guessing he understands that property taxes are based on a combination of the tax rate and the property value.

However, every year many citizens are confused by mixing up the "Tax" with the "Rate". Generally it's politicians that try to confused us, but in this case Lowell is happy to do the job so long as it hurts Republicans.

From "Tax Rate Heading Up "Substantially" in Prince William County ":

It will be very interesting to see what the Republican-dominated board in Prince William decides to do with regard to the tax rate, and what the reaction is.

For years, our assessments shot through the roof, and a few local politicians made a big deal out of "lowering" our property tax rate, as if they were saving us money, when in fact our taxes were going up.

Last year, Stewart and the board raised the rate, but lowered the average tax. They were able to explain it easily enough, and there was little negative reaction except from people and organizations who couldn't get the county to take more of our money and give it to them.

So, I expect that if the board holds the line on the average TAX paid, it won't matter what the tax rate is set at.

On a policy note, the cost to the county of servicing a house is not based on it's current assessment. But the tax code already adapts for this by "automatically" resetting the tax rate each year based on the total taxes collected. The Board must vote only if they want to change that adjustment.

Last year the board tried a tax rate that would have saved substantial taxes. This provided the residents and the board with a set of well-defined decisions about spending, and while many programs were added back, the result was a tax decrease for the average homeowner.

I expect the same next year, unless the voters pick Pandek. Then we'll be back to a budget that sharply increases our TAXES, with the onus on those who want to keep their money to independently try to find where the county staff hid the unnecessary spending.

It's much better for all of us if we start with less, and then add programs on a case-by-case basis, than if we allow every program under the sun to be buried in department budgets.

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