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Posted: 23 April 2013 03:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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Wynn, to quote you from the other thread where the figures were listed: “2% of that amount would be $519,871.  The ten Social Services agencies received $354,920 in the 2013 budget from the city.  The SOS petition was an attempt to increase that amount by $164,951.”

Yes, I do think comparatively speaking that $164,951 is a small amount of the total $272M debt. It seems that quibbling and wasting time (and money) over this $165K is petty in comparison to other debt issues, and if the City really wants to lower the overall debt, it won’t waste time with 0.06% of the debt but go after larger chunks of it. Since you’re so obsessed with this particular 0.06%, it makes me think you’re going after this for ideological reasons rather than financial.

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Posted: 24 April 2013 08:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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I must agree with Wynn.  Bake sales and car washes are probably the best answer to this funding problem.  Who doesn’t like a bake sale?
It would be fun for everyone involved, and would put those welfare slackers to work doing something productive.  Probably enhance their self-esteem to whip up some pies and cakes and such.  People need purpose in life. Makes them stronger.

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Posted: 24 April 2013 09:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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Bake sales might be a problem since the Health Department no longer does food inspections.

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Posted: 24 April 2013 09:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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Deb,
That’s no problem.  We could have the commissioners sample each pastry.  If they don’t get sick, then we are good to go!
If they do get sick, then we are probably even better off!

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Posted: 24 April 2013 07:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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Debbie:  Let me clarify as best I can my view of the social services issue.
1.  Social services supplied and supported in the community must be a combination of donations and limited tax support.
2.  The City government should only support agencies that can be related to core city functions – 5 at best.
3. The amount of funds provided should be limited to 250K.
The three points above are pretty clear.  I am not misrepresenting anything.  The 2% idea is a perpetual increase in the amount of support and places too much emphasis on the tax part and not enough on the donation part.  I trust the court will see the lack of merit in the petition idea.  I get your logic, it is based on making/forcing the property owners to pay what you determine to be their fair share.  I will continue to label that as a form of theft.  If the need for social services grows with the growth of the community, then maybe we should consider zero growth.  I am never going to vote to enact the 2% general fund ordinance. 
The taxes are too high.  The tax rate is a product of mil levy and assessment.  The assessments went up and as a result the mil levy did not rise as much.  But the dollar amount that we pay keeps going up.  The definition of a managed debt for some is -  as long as we can squeeze more money out of the taxpayer, then it is managed.  The Mercury article on Tuesday was not a bad explanation. 
I am not sure how you view property tax.  You must be looking at the wrong public records, or were given wrong data or are putting some spin on the info.  As I look at my bill the amount I pay in dollars it goes up each year.  The last three years on my house (these are numbers from my R. Eileen King Real Estate Statement – Lot 12 Windsong – I also own an empty lot - Lot 13 that is not included) - 2010 - $3772.92, 2011 - $3928.58, 2012 -  $3948.78.  The house is appraised at over twice what I paid for it.  The only good news is that the appraised value went down from $265,700 to $253,910 for this year.  The specials are paid and that is a good thing as those averaged an additional 1K per year on each lot, the specials were paid off in 2006.  It is easy for me to state that my taxes have gone up, as the dollar amounts seems to each year – facts are stubborn things.  My taxes have not remained flat and your statement is totally incorrect. 
We might see an increase in mil levy, and actual dollars shelled out this year.  We have enough wants to clearly buy a bunch of stuff causing significant increase in the property tax bill for home owners and business.  A simple list of things that will make taxes more painful include, library, mass transit, large MPO, Airport expansion, tower operation at the airport, day care at the zoo, other building projects like the fieldhouse, & parks and recreation building, and more forced tax dollar giveaways to outside agencies – everything from MAC to SSAB.  Three votes will cause a further run up of taxes.  Mine will not be one of those three votes – if it results in property tax increases.  If all of these wants can be handled through other funding to include sales tax, then that is a different story. 
There is absolutely no reason why the city cannot achieve a zero mil levy growth rate for this year, especially with the recently enacted ½ cent sales tax debt reduction measure.  The Law Board actually achieved a zero increase this year, in fact it was a small decrease.  Our philosophy has one clear difference - you want to live in a community where the taxpayers are willing to make an investment.  But in reality you want to live in a community where you can force the taxpayers to support those things that you feel are important.  I would prefer to live in a community that uses taxes to support the basic functions of a limited government and where the citizens willingly take care of their neighbors through voluntary, not forced donations.  I have no problem willingly donating funds to charity but totally deplore the government (and appointed citizen boards) deciding for me. 

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Posted: 24 April 2013 08:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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Stacia:  I guess it is how we measure the amount.  If you take the 272 million debt and then slice and dice it you can make it look small.  The goal is the total bottom line debt.  Social Services is one of the bigger line items.  Last year we cut 5% out of everything to include social services.  I was more disappointed that we did not slice more out of the travel budget - $250K.  I am interested at looking at each and every line item and achieving a reduced or flat mil levy.  That is the goal.  If the six figure SSAB budget is so important, then is it number one on a priority list?  Does it come before library expansion or after?  Does SSAB go ahead of MAC donations or operation of the pools?  SSAB is not number one on my priority list, it is also not at the bottom. It is ahead of MAC and the library expansion is behind both of them.  But as I posted earlier my definition of what we should support in the area of SSAB is limited to 5 or so agencies and a fixed dollar amount.  It is financial, if we can cut the mil levy by 1 mil and increase SSAB at the same time up to 600K, without hurting infrastructure I will vote for it.

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Posted: 24 April 2013 08:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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Michael:  Excellent idea the Bake Sale, it injects a little levity.  I was considering a dunk tank and possible pie tossing event for both County and City Commissioners at the Riley County Fair.  That could raise significant dollars.  The liberals could toss pies and dunk the conservatives and the tea party/republican/conservative crowd could pie toss and dunk the liberals.  The libertarians can go to town on both groups.  A sure win for everyone.

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Posted: 25 April 2013 07:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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So taxes amount to theft?

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Posted: 25 April 2013 09:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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Wynn:

1.  Social services are already supported by a combination of donations and limited tax support.
2.  It could be argued that the agencies that are already being supported are related to core city functions.  However, the more important issue is whether those agencies (or any agency that applies) fulfill an unmet community need.
3.  I, and others, disagree that the cap should be $250,000.  As far as the 2% resulting in an increased total dollar amount, it could just as easily result in a decreased total dollar amount if the city’s general fund budget decreases.  If taxes are a form of theft, then it can just as easily be argued that the taxpayer is being robbed when being asked to provide matching funds to enhance the airport or to subsidize the Discovery Center.

As far as taxes being too high, yours most certainly are not and my statement is NOT totally incorrect.  The information I received was from Riley County public records.  Here’s the the property tax history on your property at 3600 Windsong Ct since 1997 (I don’t know when you purchased the property):

Year   Property Tax
1997   $2,976
1998   $2,938
1999   $3,094
2000   $3,426
2001   $3,678
2002   $3,732
2003   $3,592
2004   $3,628
2005   $3,614
2006   $3,154
2007   $3,472
2008   $3,392
2009   $3,666
2010   $3,772
2011   $3,928
2012   $3,948
2013   $3,790

Annualized over 16 years, the average increase has been 1.52% each year.  Pretty modest, if you ask me.

Here’s a sampling of the taxes for other properties in your neighborhood as the average percent increase (yours being the lowest):

Address           2013 Value     1997-2012 avg % increase
1205 Windsong   $347,800       1.76%
1209 Windsong   $290,050       1.90%
1213 Windsong   $340,000       2.30%
1214 Windsong   $341,010       2.52%
3600 Windsong   $265,700       1.52%

Perhaps you protested your taxes each year and your neighbors didn’t, but I’m hard pressed to see how your property taxes are high.  And if you think they’re so high, why don’t you move to a community where property taxes are lower?

Please don’t misrepresent my views by restating them in your own words.  I was not unclear.  I think paying property taxes are “the price which civilized communities pay for the opportunity of remaining civilized” (Hart, 1903). It’s part and parcel of being a good citizen.  Continuing to increase sales tax to pay for public services disproportionately disadvantages low income residents in favor of residents who have more income.  Ed Olson’s contributing writer piece in the Mercury the other night raised some valid issues.

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Posted: 25 April 2013 01:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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Wynn,
I am not implying anything, but I think we might all want to know how you have kept your property taxes below the average for your neighborhood.  If you had an answer, I missed it.
My property taxes are about $300 a year…that is because I live in Hooterville….of course, if you consider the rate of increase, when I bought the house eight years ago, they were $39 a year.

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Posted: 25 April 2013 04:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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Debbie:  I can only label five of the agencies as being close to core city functions.  250K is adequate if given just to those five.  The others can use donations.  Increasing the tax amount because someone believes it is an unmet community need just perpetuates the reliance on tax support.  If the need is present get to work fund raising, seems to work for band pavilions, welcome signs, and flag parks.  Agencies that cannot raise the money except through tax dollars may not actually have the willing support of the citizens.  I still think the water bill donation program is a good metric to see who really cares about support of the ten agencies in question.  The small number of contributors speaks volumes.

It is interesting that you worry about the tax rate of your neighbors.  Your numbers show that the tax rate $ on my property has gone up.  That is a fact.  Then you jump to the conclusion that I should be happy that my taxes went up and also infer that maybe I should pay more because the other folks did.  What nonsense.  You state that my taxes are certainly not too high, but what qualifies you to be the judge?  You stated earlier that my property taxes had not increases since 2002 and that is in fact inaccurate.  My taxes are higher now than they were in 2002.  The fact of the matter is that our taxes have gone up – to include mine.  It does not matter one hoot if you think they have not gone up enough, were only a modest increase or that you think anyone and everybody should pay more.  I want to see everyone pay less and get a better bang for the buck.  There are many folks in this town on fixed income that do not have the ability to handle the increase.  The 20 dollar increase that was put on my tax bill this year is something I can easily absorb – I just reduce my donations to charity by 20 dollars and stay even, I just adjust my priorities.  But, others cannot afford the continued edging up of their tax bill.  I also get that you like property tax over sales tax and think we should all be honored to hand over our dollars to the government.  I do not buy into the economic argument of tax the rich and punish success.  I am not planning on moving at this point, but that is always a consideration.  Might be room in Hooterville with Michael.  You might consider the same concept of moving, say California where the idea of high taxes is part of the culture. 

The Discovery Center is being subsidized through the bed tax – which means we are thieving those funds from hotel guests.  I do not have a problem with listing tax support of the DC as theft.  The airport is arguable as being a core function it is clearly not like MAC.
By the way do you also check with Riley County to see who does or does not pay Intangibles Tax?  I would be interested in your case files on that one. 

Kathy:  Yes taking my tax dollars or any citizen’s tax dollars so special interest groups can donate to agencies like MAC and SSAB is a form of theft.  I do not mind donating to social agencies, I just do not want the government and advisory boards doing it for me.  Taking tax dollars to support roads, fire and police is something that is a government function and cannot be avoided. 

Michael;  I tend to file an objection every time they try to increase my appraised value.  I have been successful a couple of times.  One year I took a hard look at how the calculated the house value.  They came out and measured again, and corrected an erroneous calculation, saving me a significant amount of dollars.  Second I have owned this house since 1988.  Some of the others on the street have changed hands.  People came in and paid exorbitant prices for those homes and thus have suffered the result of higher taxes.  Some of the other houses have also been enlarged and renovated during the time frame from 1988 to present.  If you improve your home you are immediately punished by having the appraised value increased – so you can pay more property tax (a huge disincentive for making changes).  My home is essentially the same as it was in 1988 – just 25 years older and with some worn out parts.  It is not really comparable to the other 11 homes on this street.  I hope the value continues to drop as that is a benefit for me.  I like your tax rate in terms of $ amount, but the eight year increase is a whopper.  Your rate is too low for some.  I would not publish the number as persons might ask the County Commission to increase your tax burden so that they can handle unmet community needs.

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Posted: 25 April 2013 10:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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Wynn:

You can label five agencies as being close to core city functions.  I can label ten or more, but then I have a more expansive view of core city functions and a more generous view of what it means to be a good citizen and caring for one another.  And it’s not that I “believe” there are unmet community needs, there ARE unmet community needs.  Just because YOU don’t believe there are doesn’t mean they don’t exist.  Your view, in my opinion, is narrow and selfish and not indicative of someone who has the community’s best interests at heart.  As far as the water bill donation program, all the small number of contributors may speak to is the fact that people donate directly to the organizations they support and they already acknowledge that they contribute with their tax dollars.  It may simply indicate that they don’t want to see city taxpayer support reduced or offset by donations to the water bill program.  To prevent that from happening they donate directly to the agencies.  I know that’s what I have done.  I don’t need to donate via my water bill when I can donate to the agencies directly. 

Why do you find it interesting that I worry about the tax rate of my neighbors?  I am as concerned about rising property tax rates as anyone and check the rates in various areas of the community for comparison on a regular basis.  I was particularly interested in property tax rates during the campaign since one of the candidates was asserting that property taxes were already high and would skyrocket in the coming years.  It was interesting because this particular candidate’s property taxes had increased by little less than 1% annually over the past ten years (I’d be happy to share the details if you’re interested).  I also regularly interact with people who are concerned about their property taxes and potential increases and who are on fixed incomes, but they are also people who want quality city services and who recognize it’s a balance. 

Yes, my numbers show that the tax rate on your property has gone up, but the increase was, as I stated, an average of 1.52% per year.  My conclusion was that I don’t see that being something to complain about unless ultimately your goal is to not pay any taxes at all.  What qualifies me to be the judge?  The same thing that qualifies you to be the judge, it’s just that I try to back up my assertions with facts and figures rather than insinuations, inferences, and misinformation.  I completely understand and appreciate there are many folks in this town on fixed incomes.  I probably know that better than you do— many of them are the people who also rely on the social services you want to de-fund.  You withholding your donation to charity by $20 because your property tax increased by that amount speaks volumes about you and what you value.

I lived in California for several years so I know that culture well, but it just so happens the community in which we lived invested in its quality of life.  People were willing to make the investment with their tax dollars AND with their charitable support.  The two were not mutually exclusive.  I have also lived in Florida and Virginia and I am quite familiar with the tax structure in Tennessee.  There is no income tax in Florida and Tennessee and both states rank near the bottom in terms of providing quality education, support for higher education, and adequate social services.  At the rate Brownback is going, it won’t be long before Kansas is at the bottom with Tennessee, Florida, and Texas.  People are devalued in those states and are not treated well and with respect.

At one time I did check with Riley County to see who does and doesn’t pay Intangibles Tax, but it’s been awhile.  What’s your point?  Perhaps you’ve already done the research and would care to share the results?

I find it remarkable that you would like the value of your home to continue to drop.  Are you going to feel that way when it comes time to sell it?

 

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Posted: 26 April 2013 11:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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Wynn,
I also protested my increase…successfully…I am lucky that there is a junkyard across the street.  I took pictures and the tax people agreed.  This devalues my property by about half.  It doesn’t bother me too much.  I planted trees and hung curtains so I don’t have to look at it.  I am not too upset about the tax increase.  When I bought the property, it was listed as “abandoned”...which it was.  Funny, it was less than two weeks before the county assessor stopped by when he saw work being done.  The front porch had fallen in over the 18 years the house was vacant and I was replacing it.  He said…“I see you are adding a deck”, and I said “No, I am replacing the porch.”  I had to argue that later as well…a porch replacement is not the addition of a deck. I protested four times and they finally gave up…my taxes have been the same for five years…(Don’t tell anyone). Our taxes here in Hooterville are low.  That is, in part, because we don’t receive very many services from the county.  Cop drops in once or twice a day.  We have our own sewer system and water system.
Your situation reminds me of my parents…We had a small farm and then some rich people built fancy homes all around us. My parent’s taxes escalated tremendously because of those folks.  We were technically in Willowbrook, home of the Careys (the salt people) and other rich folks.  We just had an old farmhouse.  My parents paid dearly to live next to these rich people.

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Posted: 26 April 2013 04:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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Michael - I like the point on the porch and deck.  You have to be careful with those building improvements, as the can get a spon on them.

Debbie:  I get what your philosophy is all about, it is based on the concept of income redistribution.  I totally disagree.  Taxes and the tax system should be centered on funding the government, not for social engineering efforts.  I like the Governor, will not live in California and totally disagree that throwing more money at education will make a difference.  I never planned on selling my house, so yes if the property value of it goes down, then that is a good thing for me.  Without a mortgage any reduction in property tax provides more disposable income.  I also like sales tax over income tax and property tax.  Consumption taxes seem fair.  The more you spend the more you pay.  And I know that some will make the point that the poor should not pay sales tax, especially on food.  But everyone should pay tax if they are a citizen.  The nice part about this country is that I can prioritize how I donate and spend my money.  On the list of things that I have to cover are the various taxes, Federal, State, County, City, USD, Sales tax etc.  So yes when those go up something has to be reduced.  I do not desire to support UFM, so I do not donate to them.  If the city does take my money and donate to UFM, then it seems logical to make adjustments – consequences.  Paying taxes is a priority over other things.  I applaud your efforts to take care of the needy, but do not appreciate your desire to do that with other people’s money, quit worrying about my particular tax rate.  You seem to be upset that for some of us our taxes only went up 1%, you even appear to demonize other candidates because they did not get fleeced as much as others by the tax man.  That was the whole idea for getting involved in local government, to influence the tax increases.

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Posted: 26 April 2013 06:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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Wynn Butler - 26 April 2013 04:45 PM

Taxes and the tax system should be centered on funding the government, not for social engineering efforts. ...  And I know that some will make the point that the poor should not pay sales tax, especially on food.  But everyone should pay tax if they are a citizen.

Not only are you against providing social services, you want to tax the poor more heavily than they already are. Meanwhile…

Wynn Butler - 26 April 2013 04:45 PM

I do not desire to support UFM, so I do not donate to them.  If the city does take my money and donate to UFM, then it seems logical to make adjustments – consequences. ... That was the whole idea for getting involved in local government, to influence the tax increases.

You went into government because you were upset that a tiny fraction of your tax money went to UFM? This entire post (this entire thread, actually) is your justification of using the government entirely to lower your taxes at the expense of the poor, whom you want to raise the taxes of and take away social services from. I think we’re all jaded enough to know politicians go into politics for themselves as much as their constituency, but I admit to being appalled by your blatant admission of such.

Loving the “social engineering” and “income redistribution” dog whistles, too. Why don’t you just call Debbie a Commie like you really want to, Wynn?

(Edited for typo)

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