Trade taxes for taxes

Published: Friday, January 19, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 18, 2007 at 11:27 p.m.
The county commissioners are talking about increasing the gas tax by 5 cents per gallon. A gas tax, if offset by a reduction in the property tax, has merit because it is a consumption tax. In other words, the more you drive and place wear and tear on the roadways, the more gas you use and taxes you pay for road repair and improvements.
That seems fair. Gas taxes also have a complementary advantage of encouraging conservation. The big question is will the commission offset the property tax by a like amount, and will the gas tax be used mainly for things like bus service, roundabouts, sidewalks, etc.?
Looking at the record, last year was a banner year for tax increases. The 2007 county budget was increased to $327 million, or $49 million over last year. When the commission was considering property taxes for this year, Commissioner Byerly proposed a significantly lower tax (millage) rate that he noted would still leave the county with a nice, fat budget. Although supported by Commissioner Pinkoson, Commissioners Chestnut, DeLaney and Long wanted more and voted in the much higher property tax revenues the county is now receiving.
Only weeks after passing this windfall property tax revenue increase, Chair DeLaney noted that something must be done to reduce the high property tax rate in the county. This theme is now being echoed by the rest of the commission.
Are we experiencing the political strategy of "creating the problem and then saying we need to solve it," or "talking poor to get more," or do we have an issue of trust here? I'm betting that we get the 5 cent gas tax increase and that there will be no significant relief in property tax revenues for the county. I have their record on my side.

Ernie Taylor,


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