Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thoughts on property tax rate hikes

I have been in touch with my elected town officials regarding the proposed budget for Selma. The vote on the budget is today. I highly recommend all citizens getting active enough in their community to take part in their town, as well as county, state, and federal governments. Contact your elected representatives when you have concerns, questions, and comments. It is how you learn and make your voice heard.

I am going to give credit where credit is due. I have always had great interaction with Eric Sellers, who was appointed to fill an open slot on the town council and then beat me last election for that seat. My personal opinions aside as to how he was appointed to the position in his first, partial term, I must say that overall, I have been pleased with how he approaches his job as a council member. Eric has always been pleasant and responsive in my dealings and communications with him. Thank you, Eric, your efforts are appreciated by me if not by anyone else.

I am not going to share my entire conversation with him here, but I did share what I had written previously on this very blog. What I do want to share is some research I did. I have written previously about my best frame of reference, the town where I grew up. I was fairly involved for a teenager in town affairs. I was a stringer reporter for the local radio station, I was involved with youth government programs every year in school, I knew the town manager, and I was in the fire department's youth program. If you search my archives, you may see that I reference Franklin, New Hampshire from time to time. That is my point of reference, since the town is almost comparable to Selma.

I called and spoke to Franklin's town assessor's office after reading the tax rate on their web site. I inquired as to what the tax rate included, and she clued me in that this was the total property tax burden on real estate for all state, county, and town taxation. I ran some numbers. I emailed the following to my town council member.
I wanted to share a bit of info with you regarding tax rates. I grew up in a town about the size of Selma in population. They are now not far off from us, about 8,000 people now. I was researching the tax rate in the town. That town has a property tax rate of $18.04 per thousand valuation. That includes the share for the state and the county as well as the town. I was crunching some numbers. Assuming that my house was suddenly transplanted into that town and had the same tax value of $80,840 (according to the Johnston County appraisal card available online on the county web site), my taxes in NH would be $1458.35 per year. Here in Selma, the taxes are $1.27 per hundred valuation. The equates to $1026.67. You may think that hey, the Selma taxes are a lot less, $431.68 per year less. However, once you take into consideration the fact that in my example, NH has NO state income and NO state sales tax, you can see the disparity in effective tax rates. Do I pay more than $431 in income and sales tax each year? You better believe it. Sure, my home would be higher in appraised tax value in NH, but for the sake of comparison, I am comparing dollar value to same dollar value. That is the inherent evil in property taxation (the ethics of property taxation is a whole discussion for a whole other time). In raising 4 cents, my property taxes would only go up $32.33 per year for Selma. I personally will never miss that money. I spend that on two people at Edelweiss for dinner. However, it is the principle of the thing. When does it stop?

I have known for a long time that we in NC were getting hosed on taxes.

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