Could Candidate Plans be … Defensible?

The top issue in the gubernatorial campaign so far are the Kaine and Kilgore proposals relating to local real estate tax assessments. From the People’s Republic of Arlington, via the Richmond Times-Dispatch, comes a sensible “Correspondent of the Day” letter on the subject from Wayne Kubicki. Kubicki is a member of a citizen’s advisory board in the county.

Kubicki’s main point:

Year-to-year comparisons in Arlington for the past four years show that residential assessments have risen three to four times faster than commercial assessments. Over this period, the tax burden did shift–away from commercial properties, and onto homeowners. Both the Kaine and Kilgore proposals are attempts to remedy this.

Kubicki comments on reactions to the plans from the Virginia Municipal League and the Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

I’m impressed. No apparent partisan ax to grind, no hysterical claim that Virginia will become Mississippi if one of these plans is adopted. Maybe Jerry and Tim aren’t so bad after all.

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  1. I still don’t see how this is a state issue. The state usurping authority just doesn’t seem like a great idea.

    I guess Kaine’s plan allows localities to cut rates and receive reimbursement payments from the state. That just seems a bit shaky to me…how can we plan our budgets for the years ahead when we don’t know how much we’re going to be paying out to localities in property tax relief?

    Kilgore’s plan forces localities hands.

    Why not just let voters kick the bums who let taxes go up out of office at the local level?

  2. Norman Avatar

    This was obviously a fake letter, Will, created and distributed by the vast local conspiracy of property owners to weasel a bit of reason into the tax debate.

    Shameful..just shameful. It gives me pause, even.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Ssssshhhh…..don’t tell Barnie!

    Commonwealth Conservative

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    Taking less money out of one pocket and more money out of another and hiring the state to redistribute the funds does not sound like tax relief.

  5. Exactly. Who wants to be that NOVA gets screwed over by the reimbursement formulas?

  6. On that same point – right now, those of us who complain about NOVA not getting a fair share can always look at property taxes as a place where 100% of the taxes are used locally. Why should we let the state put it’s grubby hands on our local tax revenue?

  7. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    “Year-to-year comparisons in Arlington for the past four years show that residential assessments have risen three to four times faster than commercial assessments. “

    That might be OK if the cost of administering homeowner services has grown faster than the cost of administering business services.

    It seems to me that policy should be set to ensure that property taxes do not exceed X% of the owners income, whether that is an individual or a business. Why tax on imputed profit that may never be realized? If we have a housing bust can I apply for a refund of taxes I paid when the property was “worth” more?

    Otherwise property taxes become a disincentive to save AND a disincentive to spend. (Why buy a new car if they are going to tax me more for the same amount of transportation? Why paint my house or keep it up if it will raise the taxes?)

    Then what do you do if a property is owned by someone with no income and leased to another? Somebody will game the system.

    Then what do you do if one business (or home) uses a disproportionate amount of county services?

    We’re gonna have user fees for roads and the dump, why not for schools? Are thge user fees going to be weight, horsepower, and mileage, or just mileage? Suppose we all map out our road usage and prorate it with everbody else who uses the same roads. That would make congested roads cheaper to use because the cost is shared among more people, but only to a point.

    How do you write a policy that balances revenue with costs, bills with ability to pay, and bills with usage? What is balanced today, won’t be tomorrow.

    What if you benefit from something you never use? I never use child-care, but I benefit if it is available to my employees. What if I’m housebound and don’t drive, do I still benefit from roads?

    Then of course there are people who claim that anything anyone else does is both a personal affront and a cost. These are the people who go to a group luncheon with twenty people and then insist on separate bills because they did not have a drink.

    I’m with Paul – always vote against the incumbent until you get a government that works. I’d go one farther, since all politics is local, all taxes should be local – if the state needs money they can negotiate with the locals, who are more likely to be answerable to me. It is inefficient and bothersome to have both (all?) governments come after me personally. It is even more nuts to have the locals and state scrapping over who pays what.

  8. Salt Lick Avatar
    Salt Lick

    Ray said “I’d go one farther, since all politics is local, all taxes should be local – if the state needs money they can negotiate with the locals, who are more likely to be answerable to me.”

    Thanks for that, Ray. I feel validated. I’ve hesitated to say that, being perhaps the least informed commenter on this blog, but your premise seems “self evident” to me. I realize poorer regions of the state might need a little help to keep up, but I’ve never understood why we don’t structure our system to emphasize local taxation. Barnie Day often plays the devil’s advocate and asks what services we should cut if we don’t raise taxes, and he is right to do this. But why not ***empower*** our local governments to tell citizens — “Well, the reason you don’t have ‘X’ is you don’t want it bad enough to pay for it.”

  9. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    I just read a news article that said (Oregon, California, Washington?) is studyinga gas tax plan based on mileage. Under the plan every car would be equipped with a GPS. The mileage recorded would be linked to special gas pumps that calculate the tax.

    Now here is a wonderfully efficient tax collection scheme. All we have to do to collect the tax is create two new industries to retrofit every car and gas pump in the state. Tax collection and economic development in one swell foop.

    What’s worse is that the plan is designed to collect more tax from hybrid drivers who are seen as not paying their fair share. Nevermind they don’t weigh anything and help preserve the environment and oil supplies.

    This is going to bring howls from privacy advocates too, but think what a great law enforcement tool it will be. Criminals will be pretty much reduced to relying on public transportation if there whereabouts can be tracked all the time.

    The technology is here to do as Ed Risse suggests and charge everyone what they cost. There are two problems with that, though. 1) the costs of collection and allocation will be much higher due to technology and endless arguing – just as with the property tax. 2) Is this really what we want to do? Isn’t the reason we allocate costs per capita is just so we share the costs of things that benefit all in ways we can’t foresee?

  10. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    Add me to the list of those who are much more amenable to local tax hikes than to state or federal increases.

    It’s always amazed me that tax fights are the fiercest at the Federal level where citizens have the least control. The most apathy is at the local level, where citizens have the most control.

    I recognize there are some equalization issues from county to county and that graft and corruption is more likely at the local level, but overall I’d like to see local governments given more responsibility and flexibility. I’d like to see the state reassess a lot of what it’s doing and how it does it.

  11. Give local governments more responsibility, and I think people will start paying more attention to their local officials. At least in theory…

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