Kick'em When They're Down!

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I thought about titling this post "What's Wrong With This Headline?" But the front page headline in our local paper today is about right:

Dire outlook may prompt county to raise tax rate

The Daily Progress article goes on to explain

Albemarle County is forecasting a gloomy financial picture for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Even if the county decides in April to raise its real estate tax rate to 74.2 cents per $100 of assessed value — up from the current rate of 71 cents — the county would still have to make up a $5.5 million hole in its budget.

The board, however, may raise the tax rate even higher, to 76.7 cents or more, to set aside funding in case the economy continues to spiral downward. But, because the revenue from the additional 2.5-cent increase would go to a contingency fund, the county would still be $5.5 million in the hole.

"Bottom line is that revenues are slightly worse than what we were projecting in the first quarter," said the county's finance director, Richard Wiggans…

For example, the county is now projected to collect $1.9 million less in sales tax revenues than initially expected. Revenues from the state government, business licenses, various local taxes and other sources are also less than projected, largely because of the economic downturn.

The clueless economic logic of our local politicians appears to run as follows: Citizens' property values are falling; they are buying less stuff; and are worried about their jobs, so let's add to their misery by raising their taxes. Yeah, that'll really help get us out of a recession! I scanned the article in vain for any hint that budget cuts were being considered. 

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  1. It’s the Charlottesville area. Hollywood east near Crozet, Kluge’s empire to the south, UVA and it’s associated high dollar average students, the National Ground Intel Center to the north. It’s “Change!” they can handle.

  2. I scanned the article in vain for any hint that budget cuts were being considered.

    You know better than that, Ron. It literally doesn’t even cross their minds any more. Proposing it would probably get you blank stares.

  3. Richard Wiggans

    Dick Wiggans?

    What else do you expect when the county’s finances are being run by a merkin?!

  4. These people are all over the map. Ohio’s governor wants to cut pay across the board for government employees but also raise taxes, but the national government wants to cut taxes and increase deficit spending.

    It never, of course, crosses their mind to decrease the regulatory burden, decrease corporate taxes and attempt to get out of this in say, 2 years by attracting jobs and businesses.

    Just wait: Nicotine rocks are coming (’cause government is going to raise the taxes on cigarettes so high that bootlegging and nicotine rocks will be cheaper than cigs).

    Insanity.

  5. The clueless economic logic of our local politicians appears to run as follows: Citizens’ property values are falling; they are buying less stuff; and are worried about their jobs, so let’s add to their misery by raising their taxes.

    Well that’s not really their logic. Their logic is they’ve gots to have their mitts on that money one way or another, so when people are doing less of that exchanging money for goods kinda thing that’s tied to how much money people are actually are spending on stuff they want, better grasp more out of the revenue stream that’s less contingent on how much moolah folks have to spend and less contingent on what they actually do in general. More of a “captive audience” of tax revnue, so to speak.

  6. Ask not what your county can do for you; but ask what you can do for your county.

  7. tax + spend = prosperity

    just like

    Dungeons & Dragons + Mom’s basement = poontang

  8. I’ll have you know that elf chicks find me *very* attractive. If I go to a bar and ask a she-elf if they want to do it with a half-orc, I have a 1-3 in d20 chance of scoring.

  9. Sorry, I mean “tavern” or “inn,” not “bar.”

  10. It’s just as sensible as raising the sales tax in disaster-stricken areas to “pay for disaster relief.”

  11. Well that’s not really their logic. ….

    Fyodor, you beat me to it. Whatever their train of thought, whatever its ultimate effects, “adding to citizens’ misery” is not their rationale.

    In fact, it’s the opposite: Their “logic” is that government is good, does good things, and makes people happy. Taxing people is simply the necessary means to achieve that, and if it makes people miserable… oh well, that’s their fault for not understanding that government actually rocks and that high taxes are totally what America was meant to be about.

  12. In fact, it’s the opposite: Their “logic” is that government is good, does good things, and makes people happy.

    Precisely. It’s really more like “We do X, Y, and Z, and we can’t see cutting any one of those, so the total cost of this year is ____ and people need to buck up”.

    Of course, it beats the “haircut” approach that Congress uses. That’s like “Gee, I don’t have enough blood for the whole body, so instead of cutting of a leg I’ll cut off 15 percent of each extremity”

  13. This appears to be the main problem with requiring local gov’ts to have a balanced-budget, no matter what. Witness New York (both city and state) – which are both cutting services and raising every tax, fee, etc. they can think of (and inventing some new ones) to close the budget gap, making a bad situation a lot worse for their constituents.

  14. And now the Obama crowd is organizing locally to go into county commissioner meetings and demand that politicians do even more. These tax increases usually end when there is a revolt – somebody tossed out of office or some huge overflow crowd shouting imprecations at the budget meeting. Libertarians are way behind the curve in getting out to community meetings and demanding budget cuts.

  15. As long as we continue to elect these idiots, why wouldn’t they think they’re doing what everyone wants?

    “No. Not even in the face of Armaggedon. Never vote incumbent.”

  16. The board, however, may raise the tax rate even higher, to 76.7 cents or more,

    This is still 25 to 50% less than the typical rates around Northern Virginia.

  17. This appears to be the main problem with requiring local gov’ts to have a balanced-budget, no matter what. Witness New York (both city and state) – which are both cutting services and raising every tax, fee, etc. they can think of (and inventing some new ones) to close the budget gap, making a bad situation a lot worse for their constituents.

    If by “constituents” you mean “public employees”, I would agree.

    I would disagree, however, that pruning obese bureaucracies back to a level supportable by our current high tax rates is making most people’s situations worse.

  18. Further reinforcement to my (certainly non-original) idea that all governments act like mobs – that is they’re collectively more stupid than their most idioic individual legislator.

  19. And considering that Nancy Pelosi thinks we are losing 500 million jobs a month, that “most idiotic individual legislator” bar is pretty low.

    Would it be accurate to say its impossible to underestimate the collective intelligence of Congress?

  20. This is still 25 to 50% less than the typical rates around Northern Virginia.

    Which is why I left. It was becoming Northern Virginia.

  21. RC

    I’d say it’s all but impossible to underestimate the intellengence of Congress.

    Biggest bunch of dipsh**s in the world.

  22. We call the paper, cited by Mr. Bailey, the Daily Regress.

    We received our annual real estate assessments this week from Albemarle County. The accompanying “newsletter” lists a bunch of budget cuts, followed by the very 77 cent tax rate noted above.

    What the article doesn’t mention is that the county has an arcane “revenue sharing” agreement with the City of Charlottesville. The county’s payment to the city increased by $4.4 million for a total of $18.2 million.

    All I can say is that I voted for the other guy.

  23. The migration to Augusta and Greene counties will continue. C’ville’s rates are already so high that the police and health care workers can’t afford to live in or near town. THe good news is that maybe enough of the population will decrease so I’ll be able to find a place to park downtown. This is a beautiful area, but the city an county supervisors are terrible.

  24. Rob,

    There was plenty of parking downtown last night, as I was there for an evening of all-you-can-eat gelato at Splendora’s. Don’t forget, every Weds in February is all you can eat night. Good stuff.

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