The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.
The tax bills have arrived! Now, arenít you happy you stayed home on election day and let a small portion of Johnson County voters raise your taxes? Letís see the details:
The Ambulance tax was passed by just over 20% of the registered voters: 15% opposed it and the other 65% stayed home. The ambulance district tax rate was set at the maximum allowable by a board elected by between 2.5% and 7% of the voters in their districts; depending on the district, between 86% and 95% stayed home.
The Warrensburg R-VI levy increase was approved by about 54% of those who voted. While I donít have exact turnout figures available for that contest, an educated estimate indicates that over 80% stayed home. Hence, only about 10% of the registered voters approved this tax.
Whatís the effect of the constant tax increases? Hereís an example. I own a small 2-bedroom house in Warrensburg; between reassessment and various rate increases the actual school tax paid has gone up 57% since 1996. Overall, taxes on that property have increased by 59% over that period. In rural areas itís even more percentagewise, since a fire district levy was approved a couple of years ago.
You need to remember a couple of things about taxes. Renters also pay for property tax increases through increased rent and personal property tax on vehicles. When a taxing district asks for a tax rate increase, youíre being asked to give it a bigger portion of your assets and income; the districtís spending is increasing faster than the additional money it receives from taxes on new construction, new cars, etc.
The best weapon that tax advocates have is voter indifference. If you donít vote in a tax election, youíre voting for the tax. If you do vote against a tax but donít encourage your neighbors to do likewise, youíre not really opposing the tax.
One other thing Ė if youíre angry about your tax bill, donít blame the tax collector. Sheís just collecting the taxes you neglected to vote against.
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