Friday, January 19, 2007

Property Tax House of Cards

The Kankakee Daily Journal has an insightful piece on Taxing Authorities' definitions problems.

Take a moment to read the article and then come back here and read the rest of this post.

We don't want to glaze anyone's eyes with figures and percentages. The point is to note that government has a habit of shifting definitions and parameters so it can claim almost anything it wants.

How much money do we owe? In the now famous Clintonian logic, it all depends upon what the meaning of the word 'owe' is, how you define "money," and "we". It's called dissemination (no pun intended whatsoever) and it's been around as long as there's been a public purse to be filled. In reality, there is very little clarity about Woodford County's long-term economic plans -- beyond announcing tax "cuts" sometimes before the next election.

What do we want to see? We want to see a long-term plan for keeping Woodford County financially sound for future generations. Paying for infrastructure and services is important. So is tax fairness. But we've never been one -- and we believe this has never been a county -- that believes in tax cuts at any cost. Equally important is government investment in the county's social fabric, research and development, and public infrastructure.

New terms, calculations, or definitions rarely illuminate government intentions; more often they obscure it. It's a smoke-and-mirrors approach, when what's needed most with taxpayers' money is clarity and transparency.