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.
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