Friday, January 02, 2004

Where does the money go?

After all the kvetching we hear about cuts in state assistance to towns, and how they'll have to cut to the bone to make up for it, suddenly a letter arrives in our mailbox (and in other mailboxes all over the state). It's our quarterly property tax bill from the city. So, with much anticipation, we open it and see:

More than $300 more that we now are supposed to pay this quarter. Our assessment suddenly jumped about $650 for the year. All in all, in the ten years we've lived here, our property taxes have nearly doubled.

How do they pull it off?

It's simple. Although we have a law in this state that says property taxes should go up no more than 2.5% per year (Proposition 2 1/2), there's a big loophole. If your property is reassessed at a higher value, you still pay more - even if the rate only goes up by 2.5%. So the bill goes through the roof anyway. What they've done in this town is reassess far more frequently than before - taking full advantage of the climbing real estate prices and making up for the cuts in state funding.

I sure as heck haven't seen $1100 more in services over the last year - which is how much the bill went up in the last 12 months. As a matter of fact, it took three days for our street to get plowed after the big blizzard last month.

So, given that I'm fairly active in town issues, it's time for me to go schlepping back down to City Hall again, and discuss this with somebody. First thing next week.

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