Are They Planning to Pick Your Pockets? Beware of “Indexed” (Annual) Tax Increases

Are They Planning to Pick Your Pockets? Beware of  “Indexed” (Annual) Tax Increases

By Steve Hunley

Look out people, it’s not only Governor Haslam looking to increase your taxes by raising the gas tax. School folks met with members of the County Commission last week and are poking at property taxes; in fact, there was mention of asking the state legislature to “index” the property tax. That idea likely came from Haslam’s notion of indexing the gasoline tax to the cost of living. What that means folks is that as the cost of living rises, so will the gas tax AND the property tax.

Superintendent Buzz Thomas passed out a list of legislative priorities for the Board of Education to consider and have sent them over for the Commissioners to approve. The language is artful double-speak; take for instance the passage pertaining to the property tax:

“The Board opposes the state requirement that net tax revenues be the same before and after quadrennial property reappraisals, which over an extended period of time, forces the property tax rate down to unacceptable levels. Rather than being forced to raise the tax rate periodically, county commissioners should be given the option to lower it.” Do what!?

Let’s think about that language for just a moment. Thomas is complaining about forcing the property tax rate DOWN “to unacceptable levels.” Have your property taxes ever been forced down to an unacceptable level? Yet Thomas goes on to say Commissioners should be able to lower the sales tax. Now, one doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out something about that is not right. Put that into the context of the conversation at the joint committee meeting between County Commissioners and school board members where it was openly discussed to urge the state legislature to index property tax rates in the four big counties in Tennessee (and yes, that includes Knox County) it certainly is easy to figure out that this is a backdoor tax increase for Knox Countians. For those of you reading this who chortle that it won’t affect you because you’re renting, well, think again. Your landlord is going to pass along the cost to you. Businesses paying higher property taxes are going to pass along the cost to consumers.

Keep in mind one of the big priorities for Thomas and the school board is to get another $10 million to give teachers a 4% pay raise this year. Now what many of you don’t realize is teachers got a 6% raise last year; that figure takes into account the raises for teachers provided by the State of Tennessee and Knox County. Thomas intends to take $4 million in extra BEP money and put it together with $6 million of your tax dollars to give the teachers a raise. That doesn’t sound so bad, but if the State of Tennessee gives teachers another 2% raise, that means within a years’ time, teachers will have gotten a 12% raise. When was the last time you received a 12% raise without getting a promotion. Yet these folks are talking about indexing your taxes to the cost of living. When did the cost of living ever go DOWN for you and your family? For that matter, when were you ever guaranteed an annual increase in your salary?

Using the BEP money for teacher raises puts it in the general school budget until the end of time. If the State of Tennessee doesn’t send enough the next year, the superintendent and Board of Education will scurry across the street and cry that Mayor Burchett and the County Commission must “make up the difference.”

Only a pluperfect bureaucrat could possibly think tying taxes to the cost of living is a good idea. In fact, it’s a downright terrible idea. If you don’t like the idea, it’s time for you to get on the phone or write some emails. Start contacting your county commissioner, school board member, state legislator, and Mayor Burchett.

Mayor Burchett has been fiscally responsible and has shown he has the guts to stand up to special interests and surely to goodness he will oppose indexed taxes and making one-time money part of an eternal budget.

Get busy people, before they pick your pockets. Look out people, it’s not only Governor Haslam looking to increase your taxes by raising the gas tax. School folks met with members of the County Commission last week and are poking at property taxes; in fact, there was mention of asking the state legislature to “index” the property tax. That idea likely came from Haslam’s notion of indexing the gasoline tax to the cost of living. What that means folks is that as the cost of living rises, so will the gas tax AND the property tax.

Superintendent Buzz Thomas passed out a list of legislative priorities for the Board of Education to consider and have sent them over for the Commissioners to approve. The language is artful double-speak; take for instance the passage pertaining to the property tax:

“The Board opposes the state requirement that net tax revenues be the same before and after quadrennial property reappraisals, which over an extended period of time, forces the property tax rate down to unacceptable levels. Rather than being forced to raise the tax rate periodically, county commissioners should be given the option to lower it.” Do what!?

Let’s think about that language for just a moment. Thomas is complaining about forcing the property tax rate DOWN “to unacceptable levels.” Have your property taxes ever been forced down to an unacceptable level? Yet Thomas goes on to say Commissioners should be able to lower the sales tax. Now, one doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out something about that is not right. Put that into the context of the conversation at the joint committee meeting between County Commissioners and school board members where it was openly discussed to urge the state legislature to index property tax rates in the four big counties in Tennessee (and yes, that includes Knox County) it certainly is easy to figure out that this is a backdoor tax increase for Knox Countians. For those of you reading this who chortle that it won’t affect you because you’re renting, well, think again. Your landlord is going to pass along the cost to you. Businesses paying higher property taxes are going to pass along the cost to consumers.

Keep in mind one of the big priorities for Thomas and the school board is to get another $10 million to give teachers a 4% pay raise this year. Now what many of you don’t realize is teachers got a 6% raise last year; that figure takes into account the raises for teachers provided by the State of Tennessee and Knox County. Thomas intends to take $4 million in extra BEP money and put it together with $6 million of your tax dollars to give the teachers a raise. That doesn’t sound so bad, but if the State of Tennessee gives teachers another 2% raise, that means within a years’ time, teachers will have gotten a 12% raise. When was the last time you received a 12% raise without getting a promotion. Yet these folks are talking about indexing your taxes to the cost of living. When did the cost of living ever go DOWN for you and your family? For that matter, when were you ever guaranteed an annual increase in your salary?

Using the BEP money for teacher raises puts it in the general school budget until the end of time. If the State of Tennessee doesn’t send enough the next year, the superintendent and Board of Education will scurry across the street and cry that Mayor Burchett and the County Commission must “make up the difference.”

Only a pluperfect bureaucrat could possibly think tying taxes to the cost of living is a good idea. In fact, it’s a downright terrible idea. If you don’t like the idea, it’s time for you to get on the phone or write some emails. Start contacting your county commissioner, school board member, state legislator, and Mayor Burchett.

Mayor Burchett has been fiscally responsible and has shown he has the guts to stand up to special interests and surely to goodness he will oppose indexed taxes and making one-time money part of an eternal budget.

Get busy people, before they pick your pockets.

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