Friday, August 31, 2007

A Response To Three Anti-Voucher Facts

Let me respond to three arguments that are coming out of the anti-voucher camp that are factually based.

Vouchers are a subsidy.

True, vouchers would be money applied by the government to the private sector that benefits the public. Voucher supporters usually respond that this is a lot like what the government currently does with public education. There are differences, however. Public education is not only funded by the government, it is also administered by the government. Usually, fiscal conservatives oppose subsidies because it puts the government in the position to choose which private ventures will succeed or fail. In the case of education, however, the government is already doing this. Private schools are at a disadvantage to public schools, because of the government, in that they can fail if the money dries up. Public education funding does not fail. It may come short of expectations, but accounts remain stocked with taxpayer dollars.

Can you imagine a circumstance under which public education fails to get any funding?

Voucher money will go to religious schools

Voucher money will go to some non-secular schools as well as secular schools. This falls short of an endorsement of one religion over another by the government because it is parents that will choose where the dollars go, not the government. If vouchers pass in November, voucher opponents may choose to use the courts to argue this point. The courts will have to decide whether having parents as the intermediary between the government and private schools is enough to leave vouchers in place.

Vouchers will not create diversity

Let me tell you two other things that tend toward greater homogeneity. Where we live, and with whom we live. People of certain socio-economic classes tend to live in the same neighborhoods, and people generally choose to marry those of the same age, race, and status. The children born to us tend to be genetically, and ideologically like us. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, unless you can think of a reason that children should not look like their parents.

There is an interesting side-effect of all of this. Public school boundaries are generally drawn to enclose an area, as opposed to cherry-picking children from different areas. As a result public schools lack the very diversity that voucher opponents value so highly. Private schools, on the other hand, draw their students from larger geographical areas--an effect of their being fewer public, than private schools. Even middle, and lower, class students can attend private school if their families will make the requisite sacrifices (think of the big screen T.V. housed within a mobile home).

NSL Development: What To Do?

North Salt Lake is weighing its options on what to do with the 13 undeveloped acres of land near the Bonneville Shoreline.

What should be done with that land?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

North Salt Lake In Discussion Over Library

They have a novel idea on how to do it.

Don't raise taxes. Save for the future!

What a strange idea.


via Deseret News.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Kill The RAP

Don't let your taxpayer dollars fund your hobby. Don't let them fund someone else's hobby.

Say no to RAP

SLTrib:S. Davis Arts Center plans remain in flux

RAP Tax: Poll Results

In 2004 a RAP tax was defeated by the electorate in Davis County. This November a .1 percent RAP tax will be on the ballot again

  1. I oppose the RAP tax 5 (83%)
  2. I favor the RAP tax 1 (16%)
  3. I don't know what RAP means 0 (0%)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

RAP:NSL And Farmington Have Good Priorities

Kudos go to the city councils for North Salt Lake and Farmington who recently refused to put the RAP tax on Novembers ballot.

Keep up the good work! Special Interest groups ought not to receive taxpayer funding.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Davis County Enacts 37 Percent Tax Hike

I knew this was going to happen.

A one-time abatement given to some Davis County residents will do nothing to the counties bottom line. Next year, the full tax burden of this tax increase will be felt again. Some, next year, will see their valuations rise and feel the pain that both Bountiful, and North Salt Lake thought belonged exclusively to them.

Will residents whose home values will go up next year get anything for their suffering?


Those residents who benefit from the abatement this year on their property taxes will get the full tax bill next year.

The county isn't about to draw any attention to this fact. They are keeping quite and letting the taxpayers think that they were heard at the taxation hearing.

Monday, August 20, 2007

I Am Not Alone

It's about taxes not assessments.

Jeremy Manning and the Utah Rattler agree.

Tell the county that you want last years tax increase reversed!

County Tax Relief Solves Nothing

I should mention one thing regarding the steps the county commission is taking this year to give tax relief. It will only affect this years tax payment.

Next year you will have as high, or higher, of a property tax bill to pay.

I'll say it again. The problem is not assessments, but taxes.

The only real solution is to reverse last years tax increase!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Davis Tax Relief In Sight, On Your Site

I can't help but think that the Commission missed the boat on this one(DesNews). The underlying problem is not the assessment, but the tax increase. Regardless, they are addressing the concerns expressed by the citizens at the "Truth in Taxation" hearing. I wish they had read between the lines a bit more, however.

"Values for residential property in Davis County went up an average of 19.4 percent this year, and tax increases by four taxing entities are expected to hit some residents' pretty hard.

Davis County Clerk/Auditor Steve Rawlings said some residents saw their property values double, and others saw 50 percent increases.

But anyone whose values went up 24 percent or more over the past two years, which is the average increase for the past two years, will be eligible for the abatement.

For every $20,000 in market value over that 24 percent increase, the county is proposing to reduce property taxes by $100."

Hat tip: My father

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The "Bountiful" Recreation Center

This is just so much water under the bridge now that its hardly worth mentioning except for its educational value. I was having a conversation the other day about the Bountiful Rec Center and was informed that the pool is always crowded with people and that it could have been made larger.

My question is--you know how you come up with the perfect thing to say a week later. My question is this, How many of those crowding into the pool live in the Bountiful area? How many live in one of the other four cities? There is a law of proximity here. Those closest to the center will gather there the most. Bountiful has enough residents to fill the facility of its own accord. Some would say that Bountiful is central to the five cities, but there is still a better way to place a pool. Centerville is central to itself. North Salt Lake, Woods Cross, West Bountiful all could have had their own smaller pools. Each of these cities would have been better off dividing the 23 million dollars five ways and building five 4 million dollar facilities. I wonder if that is why North Salt Lake city was the only one to vote against the tax--My city is, as a whole, is furthest from the facility.

It looks like Bountiful figures as the big winner in this tale.

Utah Site Visit 2007: Question Answered

I asked a question about un-funded mandates of the legislature and received this response.

Utah Site Visit 2007:Un-funded Mandates

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Announcing: Utah Site Visit--An Online Townhall

Go check out Utah Site Visit! It is the place to ask questions, or make comments to your state legislators. I've posted a question already, which hopefully gets some good play, and you should too.

RAP Tax Defined

A RAP tax (Recreation, Arts, Parks) is, by design, a way that certain aficionados of the arts shift the funding of their passion from themselves to everyone else. It falls into the category of 'legal plunder' that was defined by Bastiat 150 years ago. I think that I will always oppose these taxes for that reason. There is no cause for someone who enjoys the arts, and currently has access to them, to shift the burden for funding them to the taxpayers.

If Bountiful City wants to get a RAP tax going, let them leave the other cities alone. North Salt Lake's Mayor Schaefermeyer has already come out in opposition to this tax.

Polling Glitch: RAP Tax

Earlier this morning I posted a poll on the RAP tax, but have had to take it down because of some technical difficulties. The polling engine that Blogger uses only allows so much space for text, and I was running off the page.

I'll rephrase the question and repost the poll.

Standard Examiner: Davis County Elected Officials: Tax and Spend Liberals

I awoke prepared to give a rundown of the tax increases we've seen in this county over the last five years only to find that it had been done for me.

This Op-Ed, by Ron Mortensen, in the Standard Examiner tells the tale.

Standard Examiner: Davis County Elected Officials: Tax and Spend Liberals?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Poll Results: Lame-Duck Tax Increase

In December, a Lame-Duck Commission approved a 49.5% increase for Jail Expansion, Flood prevention, and Senior Services.

  • I supported the tax increase....3 (13%)
  • I opposed the tax increase....14 (63%)
  • I supported part of the tax increase....3 (13%)
  • What tax increase?....2 (9%)
Votes taken: 22

RAP Tax: Rumors Of Its Death

Why is North Salt Lake consistently opposed to tax and fee increases in this county?

That is the question that, I'm sure, Bountiful, and other city officials ask when it comes time to promote the next "best" increase for someone's pet project.

North Salt Lake opposed the fee increase for transportation corridor preservation. They now oppose the RAP tax, and the city residents were the only city to vote against the Recreation Center. The Utah Rattler first pointed out the hypocrisy of Bountiful's opposition to the County tax increase/property valuations. Of course we ought to side with Bountiful when they are right.

I'm glad that I live in a city that bucks trends towards higher taxes and fees. This city fights, not only, for its own best interest, but for its residents sound finances.

Mayor Schaefermeyer deserves a big star for her efforts and leadership.

Hat tip: Utah Rattler.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Truth In Taxation: Listening To The Public

I went to the tax hearing tonight, and I have decided to offer some suggestions for those who wish to speak at a County "Truth in Taxation" hearing in the future.

If your home just got assessed at a higher value than before.

  • Don't say, "This assessment is unfair".
  • Do say, "This tax is unfair".
  • Don't say, "The schools here are built like the Taj Mahal"
  • Do say, "The Jail is a Taj Mahal"
Now let me explain. Assessments don't matter one iota if the taxes are unfair. Your home could be worth a dime and if the county takes half of it to pay for wasteful projects, then it is the tax you should protest, not the assessment!

The reason we don't talk about the cost of schools in front of the commission is that the school board is their own taxing entity. Please, please attend school board meetings when you can and tell them about their boondoggles. Use the passion that you expressed tonight to show the school board their impact on your lives. The jail, or the Conference Center, or anything else under the county purview is fair game for discussion when at a commission meeting.

Now I think that this commission did hear the people, but they were clumsy at responding. I have some suggestions for the elected officials there tonight. These hearings are not for the elected officials to "educated" the people. It is for the elected to listen to those who elected them. The citizenry may get technical details wrong, but it is their will that should give direction to your actions. You are elected to learn the details, and know how to carry it out. If you were elected to do a $100,000 a year job, then give us just that much value in return. (An aside, it seems that this commission may be voting in the future for a pay cut for themselves. Or, so it would seem.)

Now, I had to leave at 8:00 P.M. so I missed a vote from this commission, but I think they probably tabled the vote until they could reconsider the particulars of this budget, and perhaps the previously passed tax increase. Hopefully, they will use their intelligence to carry out the will of the people.

It is clear what the people want. When a gym full of mostly senior citizens show up to take back control of their lives, then the commission would be remiss not to give something back.

Something like those excess tax dollars!

(Note: if you went to the meeting tonight and can report on what occurred-especially after I left then please leave a comment)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Property Tax Hearings: Spitting Into The Wind

I've been debating whether it is worth my time to attend the County hearing tomorrow night as I had planned. I am coming off a little shrill on my blog as I get closer to this event, and I'm not sure that I'm going to have an impact this time. Here is why.

  • I never got a response to my email sent a week ago, to the commission, on the proposed budget.
  • The most logical move for the commission, given that they remained silent on the tax increase, is to increase the budget to the levels requested. This translates into a nearly 50 percent increase in spending this year over last.
  • Although, there were a dozen responses to my poll indicating opinion is firmly against the budget increase, and last December's attendants to the "Truth in Taxation Hearing" were overwhelmingly opposed to the increase, the commission voted in the increase. The current commission have remained silent on that fact--even now.

Reducing County Taxes: A New York Case Study

Oneida County, in New York State, has spent the last couple years, reducing spending in order to give taxes back.

That's right! I said New York.

In a press release in 2005, the current county leadership announced it had cut county jobs, and despite the unfunded mandates passed down by the State, kept tax increases down. Said the county executive at that time.

"This is a time of great opportunity here in Oneida County and we need to nurture this growth to attract more jobs and people," Griffo added. "The long-term future of Oneida County rests in making this a place where people want to live, work and build. Our county’s growth in jobs can spur home sales. We want low property tax rates to make that growth even better."
That was 2005. What about 2007? The new county executive has delivered and has promised the following.
  • I will not raise property taxes.
  • I will continue to eliminate positions.
  • I will continue to hold down general fund spending.
Those who favor high taxes may remind me that this New York County benefited from tobacco settlement money.

This is true, however the county continues to cut county jobs to favor growth. The private sector there provided more than a thousand new jobs in 2005. That is the kind of shift we should want to see here. The more government jobs are traded in for private jobs the better!
"Taxes do not occur in a vacuum. The people who pay taxes are facing increased prices
for basic foods such as bread, and gasoline prices that are still above where they were three years
ago. Senior citizens are getting Social Security increases that don’t keep pace with the cost of
living. Taxpayers should not give the government more because it means giving their families
This rhetoric has been matched by action in New York. We can do the same here.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Property Taxes: Justifications

Thanks to Jeremy for balancing out the property tax discussion. As he works for the County Assessors Office that is a good thing.

Jeremy links to this editorial by the Standard Examiner.

"In other words, if you don't want to pay higher taxes for the new jail, figure out a way to keep your kids and your neighbors from breaking the law and having to be locked up. And, while you're at it, tell the school district that it doesn't get any increased funding for new schools to educate the waves of children who arrive expecting to be educated every year. And just learn to make do with antiquated flood control as new subdivisions and shopping centers grow like weeds across all available open land.

And tell senior citizens they won't be getting any increases in funding for their programs and needs, even though their numbers are skyrocketing, too.

Somehow, we don't think those arguments are going to fly. It makes for great campaign sloganeering and anti-government bellowing to complain about higher taxes, but where would you make the cuts? The kids? The seniors? Public safety? Public health?"

Somehow I don't think that this editorials main argument flies. Mainly because they are asking the wrong questions. Here is what I would ask.

Is the government able to do the thing that it wants better than the private sector? Is the government able to pay for what it must provide, without raising taxes? By providing these services, will the government foster dependency upon the government that would not exist otherwise?

Y-intercept argues that "You should never have to raise taxes to pay for maintenance." I agree. The reasons we do raise taxes for such things are summarized on todays post.
"If you do, it generally means one of two things. Either the people who planned the infrastructure in the first place did a really bad job. The more likely scenario is that politicians diverted the budget set aside for maintenance to other less worthy projects."
The Standard argues that 'seniors needs are skyrocketing too'. Again, we have a lot of senior citizens in the county. They have to pay taxes too! Are we creating a class of people that must depend upon the government for survival?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Oppose Tax Increase: Eight Days Left

You may not have seen the poll that's running on the sidebar of this blog. There are only fourteen votes so far. Please take the opportunity to vote now if you haven't already. If you have voted, and can figure out a way to cheat, please vote against the tax increase that happened last December!

Keep in mind, there is an inaccuracy on the poll indicating that the tax increase was 49.5%, but that is actually the budgetary spending increase.

Property Tax Relay: Passing The Baton

The Utah Rattler has picked up on the property tax meme, following closely on the heels of the Utah Taxpayer, and Jeremy's Jeremiad.

One more link needs to go the Citizens For Tax Fairness.

Thanks for your attention to this important issue.