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Proviso Probe

Thursday, November 03, 2005

GOV, truth in advertising for property tax increases [public schools]

Hiram Wurf is pushing Don Harmon's bill to clarify how property tax increases work.

As I read Wurf's explanation, taxpayers pay more from property tax increases than the language of the referenda suggests. That is, a reasonable person thinks a referenda means taxes are going up by $X million, but by the time the money is collected the taxes are actually increased by $X million plus a fudge factor.

How much is the fudge factor? Over five years in twenty five districts the fudge factor was $263 million dollars.

I think $40 million is a large but not atypical increase for a district. If twenty five district milked the fudge for $263 million, that suggests districts are probably adding $5-12 million to a $40 million tax increase. Padding the increase by 10% or more seems like a big enough thing the legislature should take action.

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