Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tax cap hearing scheduled for Sept. 4

The Concord City Council will hold a hearing on the tax cap ballot initiative. The hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 4, according to a legal notice in this morning's Concord Monitor.
It will be interesting to see who shows up for the hearing and what is said about the proposal and whether or not it gets a fair hearing. According to a recent press report, I think it was Monday or Tuesday in the Monitor, the signature gatherers have enough to guarantee ballot status.
There is already some concern on the council as to how this will affect them. Hopefully they will look at all the information before them instead of just that being put out there by advocates against the proposal. How any sitting city councilor can say that they can't live with a 4.1 percent increase during these economically challenging times is beyond me.
I've been working on a longer analytical piece about the tax cap which I will publish sometime before November election.


Anonymous said...

Why is the School and County not included, they make up over 60% of the tax bill.

Tony said...

Hi Anon10:35 ...

You would have to direct your question to the sponsors of the tax cap initiative. They would know the specifics. My guess would be that since this question is directed at the city charter, it can only regulate what the city taxes. Could another question be put on the ballot to regulate the board of education and the county? I don't know. I'm told there is a move underfoot at the Legislative level to remove the BOE's autonomy and put it more in line with practically every other community in the Granite State. That would give the city council more oversight of the BOE budget. I have mixed feelings about that, considering the actions I have seen by the council, as a whole. But who knows.

Tony said...

PS: Thanks for reading!

Kris MacNeil said...

Whether you agree, or not, with the "Tax cap" issue--this will generate some GREAT discussions! This will, too, educate folks about the budget, its school vs. city/county sides of said budget. When the budget is discussed--it will get more folks involved! My feeling, though, is based on the 2/3 majority of the City Council to move a budget forward above that tax cap. Is it such a big deal to have a simple majority of 8, now have to have 9 votes to move that budget forward? The more discussions this will cause cannot hurt our taxpayers!
Kris MacNeil

Tony said...

Hi Kris,

Thanks for commenting and reading.

I'm in the process of communicating with the organizers of the petition drive to get a better clarification of the exactness of the ballot question so that some of these questions can be answered.

If the ballot question limits the city portion increase to the cost of living index, it should happen this way:

For FY09, $28.5 million was collected from property taxes for the city or 60 percent of the budget, according to documents online. The cost of living index was 4.1 percent. So, next year, only $1.16 million MORE could be collected from property taxes.

The other 40 percent of the budget - excise taxes, fees, etc. - would not be affected by the tax cap.

If it includes the county and school amounts, then it would seem that all three would be limited to living within the 4.1 percent increase. If that was $100 million, the increase would be limited to $4.1 million.

The Board of Education money collected from property taxes was $35.7 million [rounded up]. So, next year, they would have to live with a $1.5 million increase in the property tax line item. Property taxes made up 52 percent of the budget for the school system. So, not unlike the city side, about half the budget would be limited to a 4.1 percent increase.

If the schools are not held to the tax cap, they will be able to continue to tax want they want and would not be affected by anything. The mentioning of the education and county budgets into the mix by councilors and others seems like a red herring to me.

So, what is the overall problem here? I don't get it.

Ideally, both the schools and the county should be held to 4.1 increases too. But no matter what anyone says, this does not seem like such a huge thing to live with. The rest of us are having to live with limited increases in our pay ... some, like me, have already been told that we won't be getting a cost of living increase at all.

So, I don't really see why there would be a problem living with a 4.1 percent increase. Again, this isn't a tax cut - it is a limit in the increase.