Thursday, March 29, 2007

Latest talk on Property Taxes

Last night I spoke at the North Kingstown Senior Center, sponsored by the Democratic Town Committee. What a wonderful experience for me and I learned from them as I hope they learned from me. People were enthusiastic and eager to talk about their impressions and experiences with the recent re-valuation and their new assessments.

Many had their individual horror stories and each one deserved to be heard. Unfortunately I was not the one to hear them as I can do nothing about those matters individually.

As the people who attended last night now know, my position is that these types of issues, incorrect data on field cards, unrealistic estimates of resale prices, inconsistent valuation increases within the same neighborhood, and odd reductions for some of the most valuable properties as levies increase, are all issues that should never again be of concern to property owners. It is most bizarre

I suspect we all want pretty much the same things: a home in which we can afford to live over the years, an education system on a par with our spending, quality services at reasonable cost, and a distribution of those costs fairly for everyone.

How do we stack up? Not very well.

Our property taxes are among the highest in the nation (most of those dollars are for education), student performace lags behind the most of the country, and infrastructure that leaves much to be desired. We are not getting full value for what we are paying.

Add to that the unforgivable fact that about two thirds of property owners shoulder the full burden of tax increases PLUS an extra amount to compensate for the tax REDUCTIONS received by the other third of property owners whenever there is a revaluation.

Until 2000, communities would revalue property every ten years or so. Some communities did so far less often than that.

This meant that as a rule everyone would share equally in tax increases; a 4% tax increase meant a 4% increase in everyone's tax bill. Usually.

While existing owners generally believed that they were paying their fair share, property was increasing in value. This meant that new buyers, willing to pay higher and higher prices, were paying taxes on prior values, thus, less than their "fair share".

The simple solution to this was to revalue all property and tax everyone according to the resulting tax rate.

In fact a revaluation does indeed produce a tax rate which taxes new buyers fairly. However, in the process, the new tax rate taxes all existing owners unfairly. Most owners wind up paying too much and the rest don't pay enough. Do you think this is a good trade?

We can correct this. To see how, you can visit the website. You will also be find a link to your legislators. Contact them and let them know that this is an issue that concerns you. That you want it to be explored, debated, discussed and FIXED!

Rep. John Loughlin II has drafted legislation that will modify the General Laws to permit us to make the distribution of property taxes fair for everyone.

RI Constitution Article 1 Section 2, "...and the burdens of the state ought to be fairly distributed among its citizens"

It really is up to us.

But maybe it's just me.

ps. Feel free to post a reply here. Maybe we can use this as a forum to share ideas. Thanks

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