“Gwinnett County officials Friday unveiled plans to set a 2009 mill levy that would increase its portion of property taxes by about 21 percent. The proposal would generate $52.6 million in additional revenue to help restore emergency services, parks, recreation and other operations pared by budget cuts earlier this year. The increase, if passed, would add slightly more than $13 a month in county property taxes on a $200,000 house, or about $160 a year.”
This is the second time County Commissioners have proposed an increase in property taxes. Anti-tax activists defeated the earlier proposal, and the county responded with drastic cuts in services. This time around, the tax is likely to pass given that Debbie Dooley, the grass-roots coordinator for Freedomworks, will not oppose the plan:
“‘They explained in detail what this mill rate would fund. It’s what we’ve wanted all along. People just want accountability from their elected officials.’ Dooley said she has issues with some of the restorations in parks and recreation, and while she will not support the budget increase, she will not lead a drive to oppose it. She encouraged county residents to attend the public meeting Thursday to see a presentation on the plan and make up their own minds.”
The on-going tensions between government revenues and household budgets become most intense during recessionary economic conditions. Property taxes are a particularly hot topic because they drive up the cost of owning a home in ways that many struggling families are not prepared to handle. On the other hand, when deprived of these revenues, local governments can sometimes struggle to provide even the most basic services that these same families come to expect.
No matter where your sympathies reside, higher property taxes are inflationary for existing homeowners and are likely inflationary for aspirational homeowners (unless offset by federal tax credits, homebuilder discounts, etc…)