No one wants higher taxes.
To be honest, most would say that we need to lower the taxes collected and have government become more efficient.
Few could argue and we are not among them.
However, as we have opined for well over 20 years, simply rolling back taxes or not taking at least the rate which would generate the same or “compensating” revenue is outrageous.
More than that, it could be fatal.
One doesn’t have to look too far back into history to see how a constant lowering of the tax rate can mean doom. In fact, look at the situation presently being suffered in the city of Shepherdsville.
Not only did the city continue to lower its tax rate (sometimes required during the high growth periods due to limitations under House Bill 44) but it also failed to take annual cost-of-living increases in its sewer bills.
As a result, Shepherdsville hit sewer customers with at least a 66 percent increase, an occupational tax increase if you work in the city and a small property tax increase.
Not all of Shepherdsville’s problems can be traced to low tax rates but revenue is a key part of the budgeting equation.
Most recently, Bullitt Fiscal Court voted to keep its tax rate at 9.3 cents per $100 of assessed property. If you have a $100,000 home, that’s $93 a year.
Ironically, no city has a lower tax rate. And at least two fire taxing districts have a higher rate. And the school district has a rate that is seven times the county’s rate.
The real problem with the county’s decision is that it could lose $181,000 in revenue by not taking the compensating tax rate.
Just a couple of years ago, there was panic about the county having to borrow money. Now, it can afford to give pay raises to county employees and also give up the potential $181,000 in revenue.
County judge Melanie Roberts assured magistrates that the current budget - which was proposed from her office and approved by fiscal court - has enough “fat” to cut.
By the way, the compensating rate would have been 9.7 cents, or another $4 a year on a $100,000 home.
This is money which can never be recovered. Once you fail to take the compensating rate or the 4 percent increase allowed by law, that money is gone forever. You start the next year out on a lower rung on the revenue ladder.
Instead of chastising county leaders, we should be praising them for cutting taxes. What a noble effort in these tough times.
However, what could this cost the county in the future?
Could the cost of a combo meal cost the county an ambulance unit when money gets tight down the road?
Could fewer streets be paved due to the decision of saving taxpayers a couple of gallons of gas?
Would it be possible that the county might not be able to salt the icy streets because leaders saved taxpayers a couple loaves of bread?
We are not in favor of raising taxes just for the sake of raising taxes. At the same time, it is rather insulting to hear leaders say that money is tight and then turn your back on $181,000.
Even in today’s tough times, taxpayers might be willing to give up that small pizza for continued services. Or have the leaders been fibbing all along about how much money is in the bank?
The real anger from taxpayers should be when elected officials at any level fail to properly manage their money. That is the real shame.
It is too late for the county. The officials for the past 10 years have opted to do what they are allowed under the law - pass the county tax rate by resolution with no public hearings or public comments. One reading and it is done.
If I was an elected official and wanted to reduce the tax rate, I would want a crowd. But then again, maybe I wouldn’t.