I am not anti-tax. I fully understand the purpose of taxes and the need to pay taxes to make the government work. The mentality by some in government that everything can be taxed is bad. In many cases buying, selling, owning, living near, or being alive causes taxation.
It is reasonable to have a taxing scheme that allows the government to operate efficiently. Government agencies must be frugal with tax dollars. Each agency must take time to carefully consider the implications of its spending.
There are many services the government offers that provide no special incentives, provide for all citizens equally, and doesn’t reward bad behavior. For example, libraries, parks, roads, trails, and police departments are things the government does which all citizens can freely use. You don’t have to abide by certain regulations that are meant to modify or change your behavior.
Many times various agencies will come to the voters with a levy which will increase taxes. This allows voters a voice to indicate what is important. Around the county, we have spent money on fire districts, cemetery districts, roads, parks, emergency medical services, and police services. Don’t forget schools! Lots of school levies in Pullman.
When it comes to voting for such topics, I look at what is requested, how long the tax will remain in effect, and for what the money will used. I tend to vote “yes” when I find the dollar amount reasonable and quality goals. As I said, I am not anti-tax.
At some point, however, something has to give.
I always thought Pullman had the highest taxes in Whitman County. While Pullman’s property tax rate is higher than many portions of unincorporated Whitman County, some of the smaller towns have a higher tax rate. Pullman pays around 14 bucks per thousand in assessed value. If I remember correctly, Farmington pays in the neighborhood of 18 dollars per thousand.
Therefore, those in Farmington are paying more in property tax rates than people in Pullman. This is only true when looking at the rate of taxation. For a similar property, those in Pullman pay more in taxes.
Wait a minute, Scotty, you had just said that Farmington people are paying a higher rate. How does that last line make sense? I am writing about rates versus actual tax payments based on a similar property.
Imagine a typical mid-70s home that is approximately 1.900 square feet, with four 4 bedrooms and two bathrooms. Plop said home in both Pullman and Farmington. Each house sits on a quarter acre. The house, when placed in Pullman, is more valuable. In Farmington the house might sell for $200,000. That same house in Pullman is $300,000. Multiple the value of the Pullman home by 0.14 while at the same time multiply the Farmington home by 0.18.
Tada! While the tax rate is higher in Farmington the amount of taxes paid is higher in Pullman.
Many resdients have gotten tired of the continuous stream of levies coming our way. As some point people vote “no” just as a way to push back. In addition to the levies, officials at the state and federal level have found lots of ways to tax people. It gets tiring to have every transaction involve taxes.
With the primary completed this week, some Whitman County voters made their voice heard about levies in their area. If you didn’t get a chance to vote, fear not, you’ll get your chance soon. More levies are coming later in 2019 as well as 2020.
I ask all voters review each levy based on its own merits and specific goals. Voting “no” automatically because of the mindset that we are taxed too much can cause negative outcomes at a local level. Not to mention, this mentality punishes the local agency over the misguided taxation policies at the state and federal levels.
Scotty Anderson is a computer programmer who enjoys serving the community through various community-oriented service jobs.