Wednesday, June 13, 2012


A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.  That is a saying from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, and one that many of us have heard from our parents or grandparents.  Simply means, what matters is what something is, not what it is called.

The recently approved Milam County Tax Phase In Program is simply another tax abatement program.  The same thing that has been around for years but has simply been called a tax abatement.  It has been sort of prettied up, but still the same thing.  The same factors have always been considered in the granting of any previous tax abatement, or by another name tax exemption.

In 2001 the property tax code was revised to prohibit school districts from granting tax abatements.  School taxes are the highest local property taxes that are forced upon the taxpayers.  The wisdom of the legislature in passing this revision was that it was costing the districts tax money.  Logically it would follow that it also costs the county and city tax money.  Tax money that is lost to an exemption has to be made up somewhere.

Currently there are approximately 40 exemptions available for various classes of property.  Homestead, Ag use, over sixty-five and disabled veteran to name some of the more familiar ones.  While many of these exemptions are for a good cause and considered great by those that get them the truth is that someone else pays for them.

Government business costs like any other costs will continue to rise.  The increases in the costs of operation are just a fact of life.  Over time costs will continue to increase.  As growth occurs costs will increase and not much anyone can do about it.

Say a Lowe's or Home Depot was going to build in Milam County.  Would it be fair to local businesses such as Anderle Lumber or Rockdale Lumber to give the new kid in town a big tax break?  Ask the folks at Anderle and Rockdale Lumber how big of a tax break they get from the city or county.   

Taxes are a cost of doing business and basically you are looking at the local taxpayers to take up the slack and this in turn cuts into their profit margin.

I understand the concept is to lure businesses here by giving them the tax break, but what about a tax break for those that fund the infrastructure that supports the local economy.  Did Wal-Mart get a big tax abatement when they moved into Rockdale?

The real issue here is that Luminant will settle for 410 million value which will reduce this year's tax base for the county by over 160 million dollars.  A capital murder trial is underway that will cost more than budgeted, and last but not least next year's appraised values have dropped. 

This means less money for the county coming in than planned for this year and less next year.  So the plan is to give new businesses a tax break?  How about giving the current taxpayers a break?

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