Reading all of the letters to the editor from people crying foul over the proposed property tax increase leaves me scratching my head. I do not know whether to laugh or cry at what people are saying. Sure, there are programs in the Athens-Clarke County government that may be questionable to people. But I do not think I have ever seen any waste or fluff in the government offices I have dealt with over the years, and the employees are greatly underpaid compared to market worth and the state of the current economy.
I wonder what people of this area would do if they had to pay real property taxes. Yes, the taxes paid by homeowners in places like Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, etc. I remember visiting my hometown (Binghamton, NY) back in the early 1990's. A house was for sale on my street for $100,000, yet the property tax was $6,000. That is real. That is costly.
My uncle, who lived on Long Island, had wanted to retire from his job, but he couldn't. Cutbacks at Grumman Corporation meant that he was unable to sell his home. So he had to keep working just to pay his property taxes.
Yes, we need to be vigilant in watching how our government is spending our money. I would rather see a property tax increase than a never ending SPLOST. At least I can deduct the property taxes on my federal return. With SPLOST, I am paying a sales tax on special interest projects that get passed in questionable ways. I am specifically thining about the school SPLOSTs which get put up for vote on non-election days.
Frankly, it is the school district which needs a lot more oversight in how they are spending our money. They waste money by having school buses pick up and drop off at every students house instead of having designated bus stops. The argument I hear is that they have to because there are no sidewalks. We did not have sidewalks where I grew up either, yet we had 1 designated bus stop that served a 20 block area. Sorry, but this has long been one of my soapbox issues here in town, especially when getting stuck behind buses stopiing every two houses.
So let's put our focus on areas that can and should be managed better and stop whining about peorty taxes that are a relative bargain compared to other parts of the United States, and of Georgia.