Property taxes in perspectiveThere is no small amount of discussion and anger among the folks here in White Pine about the impending county tax increase that would increase taxes by $2.22 on a $100,000 piece of property. Nobody likes the increase and everyone (myself included) thinks that Jefferson County should learn to more effectively live within its means before asking the people for more money. Being opposed to the tax increase does not mean, however, that we shouldn't put what is happening in our county and the amount of taxes we pay in perspective.
There seems to be a fallacy floating around in some circles that if Jefferson County had a major industrial park that this would bring taxes down and keep them there, since it would deepen the tax base significantly. Further, this line of thought proposes that the Jefferson County Commission would be predisposed to lower property taxes if such industrialization came about-I do not believe that they would do so. Governments by nature are not inclined to take actions which reduce their power, especially unilateral tax cuts (as opposed to reductions in the rate of increase). I would gladly vote for one if I sat on the County Commission, indeed it would be my desire to bring one to a vote, but sadly I do not believe that it would pass. Jefferson County could industrialize all day long and I would bet the ranch that our taxes will not go down-there would likely be those who would move to raise them again (and I would oppose them again).
Jefferson County is not only known for its rural character, but within it remains a place where there is still plenty of unspoiled farmland, not scarred by over development and a desire to bring ruination to the county by doing nothing but build. Further, Jefferson County has lower taxes than all of our surrounding counties, with the notable exception of Sevier County. Sevier County is being held up as the model that we now need to emulate. Been to Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville lately? Do we really want to become such an overbuilt tourist trap?
Our taxes are very low, among the lowest in the State, and for those low taxes we get great value. I pay half the rate of taxes that my in-laws down the road in Hamblen County pay, and I live in town, while they don't. My trash gets picked up every week, and I have the professional police protection of a well-trained force with a highly experienced police chief. Even though our fire department is all-volunteer, it is one of the most responsive and well-trained in the region.
Yet in Hamblen County they are more industrialized, but their level of services aren't the least bit improved over what I receive (and are in some cases worse) but the taxes there are nearly double. I'll take Jefferson County will all of its faults and its lower taxes any day of the week.
I am not opposed to industrial development, but it ought to be responsible, planned, and limited.
As for the coming tax increase-I am very much against it, but our taxes will still be extremely low, and that is a reality that needs to be emphasized. What will keep taxes low is a county government that knows how to live within its means.
Labels: Local politics