Tax revenue is the sole source of how we fund all government services. Most taxpayers will agree that we pay “enough” taxes already to get what we need from our local, state, and federal services but the rub is in the allocation of the revenue toward things we don’t personally benefit from. Very little State and Federal taxes that we pay from our paychecks, comes back to us locally and what does is always decreasing. Our county services like schools, emergency services/ public safety, water & sewer, and all county administration staff is primarily supported by our property tax revenue from houses and cars, added to the multiple business taxes collected. When the State or Federal governments short change us each year on what they had promised to give us to provide a mandated service, we local taxpayers are stuck with the bill. Our present elected officials have chosen to kick a lot of bills down the road for current services, staff increases, construction projects, and more so they can claim to have “not raised taxes” to their constituents. What they have done is let the values of our property taxes rise without moving the tax “rate” back down to offset it. This has resulted in more than half of the county homeowners paying more taxes each year for several years running without most people noticing. Still, this isn’t enough revenue to cover the bills, and it’s not nearly enough to cover the requested budgets of our schools and emergency services! Rather than either raise taxes or cut services, our leaders have pledged to add staff to all departments but have no plan on how to pay for it, let alone the cash needed to fill the decrease in state and federal funds of mandated services.
Raymond Bell has a better way to succeed than simply raising taxes or cutting services. We can grow our way out of these deficits! Businesses are currently paying around 18% of our county revenue compared to homeowners at about 82%. A more desirable model is closer to 30/70. Rather than raising taxes, we can invest in more tourism and economic development tools which will attract new businesses to pay additional taxes, and tourists who come and spend money on services, fuel, lodging, and merchandise but don’t cost any money to us in schools or public services. As these new businesses come and employ our already-educated workforce, our workers commute locally rather than to Washington, and get to enjoy a short commute, but also will spend their money during the day in local businesses instead of those up north. So even if we left the amount each homeowner paid the same, we would still have more revenue in the bank from tourism and business revenue increases. We can easily close the education funding gap within a couple of years with a pro-business/pro-tourism stance on policies and choices along with a little self-restraint in spending.