Wednesday, February 02, 2005

 

Taxes Suck; Spending Sucks Worse.

Adequate 2-part series in the Washington Post this week (Part 1 here, Part 2 here) talking about rising property taxes in Virginia, and how homeowners are feeling the pinch.

I say "adequate" because the article does not address the real reasons behind tax frustration in Virginia: value obtained for taxes paid.

Yes, it's all wonderful that property values have gone up. But earned equity is fairly useless unless you move to a cheaper area. And there *are no* cheaper areas in the D.C. area any longer.

Although it makes perfect sense to increase the property tax assessments to match the increasing value of the property, most of the county tax rates themselves have not changed, leading to major out-of-pocket increase in revenues.

So thanks to the new assessment, I'm now paying a third more in taxes-- over $1200 more a year-- although by no measure has Arlington County services increased by a third.

Sure, the County will complain about inflation, higher salaries, higher insurance costs, and other debts, but that still is not worth a 24%-32% increase. Really, why does the County need that much additional money over last year?

For the past few years Arlington County has cut their property tax rate (currently 95.8 cents per $100) after each assessment, but they cut the rate by such a small amount as to be laughable-- a penny or two at most. Their anemic excuse for "relief."

One of the County's budget analysts, however, says he can cut 8 to 9 cents per $100 and *still* obtain a 5% growth in the 2005 budget.

Sheesh, I know how tough it is to survive on a 5% raise, but something tells me Arlington County can make do without that shiny new conference center they want to buy.

But who here wants to take a guess at how likely a tax cut even approaching that magnitude will gain the approval of the five-person (five-Democrat) County Board?

Especially when Arlington County-- not to mention the State of Virginia-- is *still* running a budget surplus every year?

It's money they didn't ask for, money they don't deserve, and money they certainly do not need. My hometown isn't some rural backwater starved for infrastructure improvements and basic services-- Arlington County is one of wealthiest counties in America. This ain't Kigali. If the County wants money to fix a road, fine; if the County wants money to build yet another bike path or build another cultural center, I'd rather they save me some money.

Sheesh; government spending sucks.

Must. Launch. Tax. Revolt.

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FYI, see here for this interesting blog run by the Arlington County Taxpayers Association. A good storehouse for information, for those six readers of mine who live in this area.

Plus, I find bashing my local government very therapeutic, especially when it's their seal on most of my bills.


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