Saturday, September 08, 2007

Koecher To Stephenson: Comments Made Years Ago Unfair

Rolf Koecher has an interesting take on what is an appropriate tax increase.

He begins by saying that he was "personally upset" with the Utah Taxpayers Association President, Howard Stevenson, for targeting Davis County some years ago with a criticism of our tax increases.

Stephenson said that our elected officials were "out of control" Koecher says,

"It wasn’t out of control then, and his statement was vastly unfair.
This year, however, I wouldn’t be as quick to challenge him if he made the same comments." (italics mine)
Of course, Stephenson, in 2003, was talking about the attempt made to increase our taxes by 138 percent.


Koecher goes on to say that some taxes are fair by virtue of being small. The corollary is that large taxes would be unfair. Koecher says he can see why residents would think taxes to be unfair in the last two years, but, somehow he doesn't see the increase of 138 percent as a problem. In fact, he doesn't even acknowledge that Stephenson was talking about a huge tax hike in 2003 when he made his comment.

Koecher lets us know that he favors the RAP tax because it would be "so small".

Here is what Mike Jerman, also of the Utah Taxpayers association, has to say about "small" tax increases.
Mike Jerman, vice president of the Utah Taxpayers Association, said
the gamut of new taxes ranging from the mosquito abatement tax in
Salt Lake City to the fire district tax in Park City represent a growing
Utah trend toward hitting residents with lots of small fees and taxes.
The smaller taxes, he said, are easier to pass because they meet less
opposition from residents than do single, large taxes.
Jerman equated the tax levying approach to the old boiling a frog
analogy: Throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will jump out. Put a
frog in a pot of cold water and bring the heat up slowly, "the frog
doesn't realize it's being boiled," he said.
The trouble with that method, Jerman added, is that people notice the
heat of being nickeled and dimed eventually.

In the interest of full disclosure, Koecher hasn't said a single nice thing about me, and I have both opposed and agreed with him on separate occasions.


Utah Taxpayer said...

The Davis County Clipper has almost always defended local governments on tax issues, and they are one of the biggest defenders in Utah of incrementalism in which "small" tax increases are consistently passed.

Regarding the 138% property tax increase of a couple of years ago that Koecher is trying to dismiss, the magnitude of the increase wasn't the only problem. The county wanted to impose a permanent tax increase to fund a one-time capital project (jail). Normally, counties issue voter-approved general obligation bonds for capital projects. Once the bond is paid off, the tax increase disappears. However, if the county had prevailed, they would have kept the tax increase even after the jail was paid off.

You can imagine what would happen if every school district, county, city, and special service district raised their taxes PERMANENTLY every time they built or expanded a new building.

Moreover, the county wanted to raise taxes to cover the operation of jail TWO years before the jail opened.

In his role of defending Davis County elected officials, Koecher is hoping that over time Davis County residents will have forgotten what happened.