I have read Barry Paschals columns for years and have usually agreed with and enjoyed his opinions. However, his recent column, Too Much Tax, or Not Enough was too much for me!
In his article, he says the Columbia County budget for next year is rising by $7 million to $39.9 million - a 21 percent increase! I was not aware of this huge rise, and am dumbfounded by the sheer size. Heretofore, I have always appreciated the strong effort by our commissioners to hold the line on taxes.
As Paschal explains, this large increase in taxes is being funded by an increase in property values, not an increase in millage rates. This is the back-door method of increasing taxes. You pay more taxes but your commissioner smugly points to the fact that your millage rate has not been increased.
Paschal then points out that state law requires the advertising of this back-door tax increase, and he criticized the law by saying: somethings goofy when local governments apologize because your house has become more valuable. Huh? The purpose of the law is to notify taxpayers that county government is increasing our taxes indirectly. Its a darn good law that could be improved (more on that later).
The real crowning touch to Paschals column is when he equated the increase in property values to the increase in taxes. Is he saying that county taxes should increase just because property values have increased? Huh?
The darn good law requiring notification of property owners that they are about to suffer a back door tax increase would be much better if state law required an automatic rollback of the millage rate so that the county tax digest is not increased by rising property values. The commissioners could then be up front with increasing taxes and provide the necessary explanations.
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