Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Tax Attack

As we earlier reported, the Grand Rapids City Commission went ahead and increased our taxes twice this week. First, they agreed to the 1% tax collection fee which will be added to everyone's property tax bill. In addition, the CiCom voted to increase our trash service property tax levy .2 mills.

There were two prescient quotes in the above-linked article. First was from second ward Commissioner Rick Tormala, who said, "We're going to charge you a fee for the pleasure of collecting your taxes." How true. Not only is the city taxing the daylights out of us, they charge us for the pleasure. How nice of them. However, he didn't have the guts to vote "no" on it! Instead they agreed on a three year sunset provision, so the tax increase will phase out in three years. Yeah, right!

In addition, Mayor Heartwell gets the award for Whining Comment of the Month. He said, "We're cutting deeply on the expense side. This is one opportunity we have to raise revenues." How nice. Our still-bloated city government has had to face some cuts, so it decided to extract more money from the citizenry. What about those of us who are completely incapable of increasing our own revenues, either because of unemployment or underemployment, which are at far higher rates in the city than the rest of the state. Our expenses just went up from increased taxes. Again, why can't the City Commission cut more? Because they don't have the political guts.

On top of that, the CiCom also voted to increase our trash tax. It has gone up by 0.2 mills. The trash tax pays for the completely inefficient and wasteful trash system run by the city. We discussed this earlier, and proposed that the city privatize its trash collection service. Why does all of the citizenry have to subsidize the collection of trash. The tags the city sells do not pay for the service that is being provided. There are quite a few trash collection services available in the city. Instead, the CiCom decides to hike everyone's taxes to make up for the inability of city government to run anything efficiently or even the slightest bit self-sufficient.

So, this week your property tax went up another $22 per year. That's in addition to the .2 mill increase from last year's ITP transit tax increase, and February's 1 mill increase in the countywide Kent Intermediate School District tax increase. From November of last year through now, the average city homeowner with a $100,000 house has had a property tax increase of $82 per year. Add on top of that the reduction of the personal exemption on the City's income tax, which increased everyone's income tax $13 per year, making the total tax increase $95, just in the last nine months.

And there's much more to come! The following tax increases are still on the ballot for this year:

  • Grand Rapids Public Schools millage increase on the ballot June 14th (An additional approx $100 per household annual tax increase)
  • The upcoming library millage
  • The upcoming zoo millage

    If they want a cool city, we're a little baffled. There's nothing cool about high unemployment, high proerty tax and income tax rates, and a fleeing middle class.
  • Thursday, April 22, 2004

    House Votes Down Liquor/Estate Taxes

    Well, what do you know? The Michigan Legislature voted down the proposed increase in the liquor tax and the extension of the death tax - also known as the estate tax. I guess the Republicans can come through once in a while on tax issues. But now the House Speaker wants to increase the cigaratte tax more than $.75 per pack. Hopefully the rest of the House members will be able to stand up to that too.

    They can come up with the votes to sink a new tax, but they can't come up with the votes to make some cuts. What's wrong with these people? They can't find anything to cut in the bloated $9 billion general fund budget?

    Wednesday, April 21, 2004

    Sin Tax Update

    The Michigan Legislature will this week take up several bills to increase the cigarette tax, the liquor tax, and to extend the estate tax, which is scheduled to expire at the end of this year.

    For our feelings on the issue, we'll point you to our earlier post on the issue of increasing the cigaratte and liquor taxes and how they help create and increase a black market in those items.

    As for the estate tax, we believe that it is a morally represenhable activity. You pay taxes all your life and then the government taxes you again on the money you've already been taxed on, simply because you died. The federal government has at least repealed the death tax, so the state should follow suit. But of course, the tax and spend politicians who still don't get why business and investment are leaving this state, want to continue taxing the dayligts out of everything that moves - and everything that stops moving.

    The real issue isn't the tax increase per se, but the inability of government and politicians to realize how taxation harms the economy and stunts growth. The more of this they do, the longer it's going to take Michigan to emerge from this slump. The one sure-fire way to dramatically improve economic growth is cutting taxes, as both Kennedy and Reagan proved. But then again, no one ever said that politicians were well-informed on history.

    Thursday, April 15, 2004

    Even More Taxes in GR

    Wow, the Grand Rapids City Commission is at it again. Yesterday they discussed increasing our property tax even more for the city's trash program. Apparently the city's Refuse Collection Fund is going to have a deficit if they don't both increase fees and increase everyone's taxes.

    The refuse collection portion of the fund costs $5.9 million and the property tax brings in $4.9 million. The sale of garbage tags only produce $3.1 million in revenue. So it looks like we, the taxpayers, and subsidizing every bag of trash, because the city loses money on trash collection.

    My question is this: why does the city even run a trash collection service? There is a wide selection of trash collection companies in town and they're all pretty reasonable. And the best part: you only pay if you use them! Right now, everyone in the city gets to pay for trash collection they don't necessarily use. You pay for your own private trash collection service? Congratulations, you get to pay twice; the company who collects your trash and a property tax for the city's trash collection. It's time to privatize the city's trash collection service, reduce the property tax levy that pays for that service, and let those who use the service pay for it.