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No surprise county hiking taxes

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POSTED: August 29, 2007 5:03 a.m.

Is anyone actually surprised that the Bryan County Board of Commissioners is planning on raising taxes.? I doubt it.

Instead, it seems logical the tax hike became a no-brainer after the new homestead exemptions took effect.

And that's because, while the exemptions saved a good number of taxpayers a nice amount of money, they also wiped out about $1.3 million in revenue for next year's budget.

The county's projected expenses, on the other hand, have gone up by roughly $2 million.

So, commissioners are basically left with two options.

The first is to make some cuts in operating expenses, not an easy thing for government to do in any circumstance, let alone in a county with a growing population and what appears to be an institutional desire to get as big as possible.

The second option is to do what the county says it is going to do – get the money back.

No surprise which one got picked. And the good news appears to be the rate increase won't put too much of a dent in people's pocketbooks. We were told it should average out to about 17 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

While that sounds modest enough, it will be interesting to see how the tax hike is received by the people who have to foot the bill, particularly on the heels of last year's property revaluation – a painful reality for many residents who saw their property values skyrocket.

But heartburn over property taxes isn't restricted to Bryan County. It's a touchy situation statewide.

So count me as one who believes that House Speaker Glenn Richardson is on the right track with his proposal to can property taxes and replace the revenue with proceeds from cutting exemptions to the state's sales taxes.

There are concerns about how this might work, not the least of which is what will happen if the state controls all the purse strings.

Still, anything which will take some of the burden of paying for growth and the corresponding upsizing in government off the back of property owners is a good thing.

That's why, though I'm not a fan of Richardson given his attempts to limit media coverage in the capitol, I'll give the man credit for trying to do something to fix what is becoming an increasingly unfair system of taxation.

Besides, as it stands now, all us property owners do anyway is rent our homes from our local government.

And the rent keeps going up.

 

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