If you haven’t read my explanation of the tax increase itself, read that first. You need to understand the facts before you read anyone’s opinion.
As a Realtor and a homeowner in Colorado Springs I have a vested interest in this issue from multiple angles. As a homeowner, I pay taxes and care about the long term value of my home. As a Realtor, anything which affects property values, desirability of our city, city services and amenities, or home affordability directly affects my livelihood. In light of all of these considerations, I’ve decided to vote “No” on the upcoming ballot issue 2C. Here are just a few of the reasons:
1. First, they are proposing a permanent tax increase for a temporary problem. Most everyone agrees that the primary source of this problem is the decreased sales tax revenue. Once the economy begins to recover, sales tax revenues will rebound and the immediate problem will be over. So even if we grant supporters of the tax increase their purported “need” for extra money in 2010, approving a tax increase now will only enable them to waste more money in the years ahead. In fact, the tax will still be being phased in 5 years from now when this recession should be over. The city is taking advantage of fear over the current situation to pad the city coffers in the future; this is wrong.
2. This proposed budget is classic scare tactics on the part of government; threaten to take away what people want most (in this case, emergency services, for one) unless we pony up and fund their inability to manage what they have. I’m a political junkie and this is straight out of political strategy 101 – the only way the citizenry will support higher taxes is if we scare them bad enough. Perhaps we need to re-evaluate where to cut back; perhaps some ancillary service do need to be trimmed in the short term until the economy recovers, and maybe some could be trimmed permanently. If we don’t pass this increase will they actually cut back fire protection? Maybe, maybe not. The point is that you can’t scare people by telling them you’re going to delay a road project for another year (for example). You have to threaten them where it hurts to have a chance at getting some more of their hard earned cash.
3. We can’t make a blanket assertion that values will go down if taxes aren’t raised, but they will be more stable with the benefits from higher taxes. Property tax increases, by definition, suppress property values by affected home affordability. I’ve seen $8/mo. affect someones ability to purchase a home. I agree the tax increase would be of benefit to SOME homeowners who would be directly impacted by specific cutbacks, but a tax increase will be a detriment to MOST homeowners. This isn’t the time to adversely affect home affordability.
4. For those families who already own a home, there are many people in our city right now who need every $10 or $20 they can find every month. They city just might end up closing that park across town, but what about their kid across the table. When times are tough, sometime we have to cut back. Individuals and families are already cutting back from what they would like to spend – why does the government think they are exempt from a little pain in the back pocket?
5. As if the strain on families wasn’t enough, what about the small businesses? Because of the way Colorado computes property taxes, this increase will hit commercial property 3 to 4 times harder than residential. (This goes for vacant land as well.) Small businesses are already struggling as consumers pull back; this is the wrong time to squeeze them for more taxes. All companies, large and small, will be force to pass along the tax to consumers as they do with any significant increase to their cost of doing business. This pass through tax will compound the tax increase on homeowners, as well as affecting those who don’t own property.
And I could go on… Please, carefully weigh your vote this November. If you feel the need to vote for higher taxes, then by all means get out there and vote. I commend you for exercising your rights as a citizen. But consider the ramification of a vote in either direction on this issue. I agree that our city is presently under some financial pressures, but I fail to see how this is entirely a negative reality. It’s good for government to occasionally feel a little pinch or there would be no end to how quickly they could burn through our money!