Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Kudos to Peachtree City for Saying it Straight

Peachtree City is raising taxes. If you live in Peachtree City that can’t make you a happy camper (or more accurately, a happy home owner). You tax bill is going to be higher.

The School Board is also raising taxes. The County Commission raised taxes last year and said earlier they were going to raise them this year.

Whoa, you say, I haven’t heard that. In fact according to some of the campaign literature I received the Commissioners said they haven’t raised taxes in two years. Janet, you have to be mistaken.

Nope. It’s just like former President Clinton’s statement regarding the definition of “is”. There are taxes and then there are taxes.

When Peachtree City says they’re raising taxes, they are doing exactly the same thing the County did last year and the School Board did both years. However, rather than candy-coating it with misunderstood terminology, “millage rate”, they said it straight out with great honesty.

Here’s a real simplified explanation of how millage rates work (don’t hold my feet to the fire if it’s not 100% technically complete, I’ll link you to an article that uses all the correct terms at the end of my editorial):

When your property values increase, which they usually do each year, the governing authority has the ability to off-set that increased value by decreasing or rolling back the millage rate. If they roll it back, those taxes don’t go up. If they leave it without changing anything your taxes go UP due to the increased value of your property. If they RAISE the millage rate, the taxes go up even higher.

Not rolling back the millage rate is called a “back-door tax increase”. Because it’s such a sneaky way to get more tax dollars from you, the state finally started requiring cities and counties to hold three public hearings anytime they weren’t going to roll back the millage rate.

Fayetteville isn’t rolling their back and neither is the School Board. Now Peachtree City is doing the same.

Those living inside the cities will get a double whammy. Their city and the school board didn’t offset the mill rate.

Unfortunately, even though the state requires the three hearings, most people only see something about their governing body having a public meeting regarding the millage rate. I’d venture to guess that 80% of the population doesn’t equate millage rate with tax hike.

In fact, I sat through a County budget meeting last year and Fayette County Commissioner Eric Maxwell said something to the effect that they weren’t going to raise taxes, no way, no sir. However, he said, they wouldn’t be able to roll back the millage rate for the first time in five or six years. I was filming that day, maybe I’ll go back and see if I can dig it up for you.

A tax hike by any name is a tax increase. Whether you say your not rolling back the millage rate or say you’re increasing taxes.

Although I’d prefer that Peachtree City not increase taxes, at least they say it like it is.

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