Attract businesses that will share our tax burden

Published 8:24 pm Thursday, October 30, 2008


Of all tax types, property taxes are the least popular among taxing authorities. Property taxes are paid all at once, unlike income tax or sales taxes which are paid a little along. The people who decide who gets what tax type reserves the less painful type for their entity and pass the most painful type down the line to the least influential entity (the county). This property tax is assessed upon 5 groups of property, real, business personal, mobile homes, motor vehicles, and public utility.

This past year several things of interest occurred. Our county went through a mandated reappraisal (due to storm damage) of real property and increased values by 19%. Some say that values have gone down recently but this increase represents the time period from 2001 to 2007, and the drop in value according to the contractor was from a spike in 2006 to the 2007 levels. Our value index went from a 1.25 to 1.45.

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Agriculture use values are set at the income value of agriculture land. This value is calculated by the state, the local assessor does not set the value of the large tracts of timberland. This year the value was lowered on the highest class of timberland from $374 per acre to $337 per acre. Other classes of agricultural land are assessed lower.

Motor Vehicle assessments have gone down this year and this may be the first time they have ever gone down. Since 1989 MV assessments have risen 5% to 15% per year. This year they are down 2%.

Taken all together a clear direction is visible regarding our property taxes. They are being shifted from the large landowners to the homeowners and are shifting from our automobiles to our homes. Our home taxes are also increased by the erosion of the Homestead exemption. As our home value index has risen to 1.25 and now to 1.45 the exemption remains frozen. It seems only fair that the exemption also be indexed upward.

In most cases a sense of fairness depends upon your point of view, but from my point of view this system needs tweaking.

One way to shift the burden away from homeowners is to invite businesses into our county who can share our tax burden in return for enjoying our low crime rate, affordable land, safe schools, and high ground. We should identity the type of businesses best for our community and actively recruit rather than sit and wait for whoever shows up. Even in tight times intelligent economic development is a sound investment and may be the best way to reduce the tax burden on our homes.

Gary Beech