Notes on the millage readjustment, or Taxes that is.

Once more:

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto on Monday proposed a 0.5-mill real estate tax increase to help cover a shortfall in the $505.9 million budget he plans for 2015. (Trib, Bob Bauder)

1) Allegheny County just underwent a once-in-a-decade property reassessment.

2) Due to generally rising property values, in 2013 tax rates were cut, so that by law the City’s and all other local governments’ total take would stay about the same.

3) The Ravenstahl administration said it was inclined to “err on the side of taxpayers.”  That’s a solid policy, given what we all knew at the time.

4) Once-in-a-decade property reassessments led to once-in-a-decade assessment appeals, driving net revenues downward. Further exacerbating things, it seems there is some evidence that the big guns do even better at filing appeals.

5)  When you err to one side, but it turns out your assumptions are already erring to that same side, it results in a more significant error.

6)  Pittsburgh needs to shrink last year’s purely “on paper” tax cut to remain on course — you know, the course with rocks, reefs and krakens enough already.

7)  Before Allegheny County next reassesses property values, hopefully in three or four years despite its leaders, both it and the City need to look back on what happened this time and make for more stable, predictable procedures.

I may be wrong to assume this will be a lively political conversation. But what I am suggesting is: how about we solve the problem the easy and intuitive way by correcting the mistake, and not turn this into a Western? The Comet shall insert more and better links into the above later at our leisure, and sharpen the grammar. Gotta run…

UPDATE: See also what the Mayor’s office has to say.

UPDATE, the Deux:

…proposing to fill the rest of the gap with $10 million in increased revenue from the parking authority, eliminating 75 vacant city government positions, refinancing debt and other savings. (P-G, Robert Zullo)


46 thoughts on “Notes on the millage readjustment, or Taxes that is.

  1. Pete B.

    The new property values took effect in 2013. The values were released in early 2012 and property owners had until April 2012 to appeal. Normally,annual appeals are not allowed during the year that new property values take effect, but the County amended its code to allow it (as they did in previous reassessment years.) Point is–the guessing game of tax rates should be easier if we do the process the way the code specifies. Once taxes are lowered, it’s hard to raise them back up. Given our liabilities (pension, deferred capital expenditures like street paving) and Pittsburgh’s relatively strong economic footing in the post-recession economy, we have to AT LEAST get back to our pre-reassessment-and-subsequent-double-dip-appeal revenue levels.

      1. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

        Thank you for all the above material, Pete. I’m unsure if we shouldn’t still be sympathetic to the Feb. delay, since many taxpayers needed to circle their wagons for due process on their assessments.

        I fault the County for fighting reassessments for so long, for not sufficiently organizing resources to make more defensible assessments and then to defend the most expensive assessment appeals, and I fault the State for not taking care of all of this uniformly on a level that scales.

      1. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

        I didn’t even think it WAS in court! I thought Ravenstahl put it on the shelf of things to figure out how to do, and Peduto maybe hasn’t gotten to it yet.

    1. MH

      I was drunk, so I just went ahead and downloaded budget. It contains the following:

      Passed in December 2012, the Outdoor Advertising Excise Tax is a 10% tax on billboard transactions. This tax is estimated to generate $2.4 million dollars annually. The tax is currently being challenged in court, and no revenue has been budgeted for 2015.

      1. MH

        If it’s been in court that long, I’d think it stands a good chance of passing constitutional muster. If they can collect it, I think they should dedicate the revenue to bicycle infrastructure. Just to see whose head’s explode.

      2. Helen Gerhardt

        @MH So few can make me laugh so hard with so few lines. I wish that the Comet had a “Like” button.

  2. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

    So Luke Ravenstahl, Darlene Harris and Michael Lamb are speaking out against the “tax hike”… and they’re avoiding the need to address any facts relating to what is going on by insisting our mayor is once again being an awful meanie by “blaming his predecessor”.

    I wonder how one is supposed to run a city in 2014 without ever making reference to anything that happened in 2013 or 2012.

    If I were in charge of Pittsburgh and such resolute political dead-enders as Ravenstahl, Harris and Lamb weren’t irritated with me, I’d suspect I was doing something wrong.

    1. Brian Tucker-Hill

      Proving once again that just because Republicans in particular aren’t viable, that doesn’t mean there is only one political party operating in the City.

      Anyway, the overly-aggressive millage reduction was an understandable mistake, and therefore a proposal to rectify that mistake is not inherently a strong rebuke . . . unless perhaps it serves your purposes to interpret it that way.

      On the other hand, the shenanigans in the pension budgeting is a real issue. And the argument it must be OK because the state signed off on it in various ways over the years doesn’t hold much water. The last thing the current state administration would want is to have to take over the Pittsburgh pensions, thereby simultaneously gaining a headache and losing a cudgel.

  3. Anonymous

    Or forgetting that Bill Peduto voted for the tax reduction or that he was part of the budget process for the past 20 years when the City allegedly passed untruthful budgets.

    This is a tax hike on the citizens of Pittsburgh, there is no way around that. Why are none of you talking about the massive increase in spending that the Peduto budget proposes? At the very least, I would have liked to have seen him keep spending even. But he didn’t. He has lots of executives on staff that do nothing, are never to be found, but collect rich salaries. Now apparently he is trying to sneak through a new position for Mike “I know nothing about credit cards” Huss without even posting a job description.

    This is a tax and spend administration that will keep racking up tax increases. Why not at least wait a couple years to see if tax revenue increases? The overall revenue has increased significantly so why do we “need” to increase taxes right now?

      1. Anonymous

        I don’t even know what you are talking about. Facts: Revenue is up year over year in Pgh, even with the alleged “millage miscalculation.” Bill is raising taxes without even exploring other sources of revenue. Bill significantly increased spending. Bill added about 5 new executive level positions with salaries over $100,000. Want to dispute any of those facts?

        The cold hard facts are that taxpayers in the City of Pgh already pay higher taxes than virtually anywhere else in the area. Every new tax is an additional burden on them – especially the middle class. You sir are no progressive and neither is Peduto.

      2. MH

        I do suck at being a progressive, but at least I can define it. A progressive would worry more about taxes and services for the lower class than the middle class. You just can’t be a moderate anymore because the Republicans started huffing paint (that’s literally the most positive interpretation possible), so I went with the best of what was left.

        And the fact remains that in the 90s, the Republicans started training candidates to repeat phrases like “tax and spend” and to never mention government employees (excepting cops and people in the room) without some synonym for “lazy” appearing there. You’re an heir to that tradition, whether you’re well enough informed to realize it or not.

      3. Anonymous

        I love it MH – trade off old elitist forms of argument like ignoring the facts and attacking the speaker. You might as well just say “you are not as smart as me, na na na na na.”

    1. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

      You work off of the budgets you are handed, not with the budgets you want or hope to get at a later time. You can hardly be an effective member of Council if you’re going to get too persnickety about all the little stunts and tricks in them to even participate in the budget process.

      And I wrote the 2013 tax reduction looked great, when we were operating off that set of facts. We have a different set of facts now. If you want to spite the City because Peduto used slightly more strident language, I can’t account for that.

      We need to readjust the millage because the error is costing us about $8 million annually compared to what it was taking in before. I can accept a few of your points about $100K executives as legitimate (I think the Huss situation requires a little more explanation, let’s hear Huss and Bucar and Peduto interviewed in depth by a real reporter for example) but even if you have a problem with 5 new execs, that’s half a million — and we’re looking at an $8 million deficit. What services are you cutting?

      Finally, anyone who uses the term “tax and spend” to describe anything either isn’t a Democrat or doesn’t care about the party.

      1. Anonymous

        Define “need?” Bill increased spending – dramatically. So if you mean we “need” the tax increase to keep up with his spending, then I guess that is correct.

        We are NOT looking at an $8 million deficit. Why not let the year play our (or a couple years actually) and see what ACTUALLY end up with as far as a deficit goes. Again, the people of Pgh have already been overtaxed for years. Past politicians finally had the guts to hold the line and cut spending and look for other sources of revenue and for the first time in decades the City is growing.

        For his many faults, Ravenstahl held the line on spending, paid down the debt and didn’t raise taxes. I can assure you that is just a big of a reason that the City is growing than any Google employee. Ravenstahl was attacked, primarily by Peduto, for trying to find alternate sources of revenue. His ideas might not have been the greatest, but no one else had any ideas.

        The bigger problem is that Bill ran on this idea that his relationship with the non-profits would plug any budget holes and that by cooperating with the parking authority the City could get more revenue. I’m all about parking revenue (which by the way was $11 million MORE last year) helping the budget. The money is there to fill any holes. Instead of getting creative and efficient, Bill has dramatically increased spending and went right for the low hanging fruit to just tax people. He has shown zero leadership, zero creativity and the same old machine style politics of raise taxes, attack people that disagree with him and blame problems on someone else.

      2. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

        “Machine-style” too? What do you think that means? You just threw that in there, because you figured there’s still a button you haven’t pressed?

      1. Anonymous

        those are both gimmicks. Deserving of answers, but not in this forum. The reality is that revenue is up year over year. I mean pure revenue (earned income and real estate taxes). In fact, it is growing at a steady clip. that is the benefit of a growing city. The wrong move now is to raise taxes. The correct move is to let the economic base grow and tax revenue will increase (or catch up).

        The only way you justify something else is if you want to give money to someone else. What could Bill have in store?

      2. Brian Tucker-Hill

        Gimmicks? Those are two of the standard accepted steps when comparing budgetary decisions made at different times, both necessary for rather obvious reasons. I`d actually suggest that if someone insists on making such comparisons without performing those steps, that is more fairly called gimmickry–or perhaps just deception.

        And certainly if you are interested in actually persuading others, rather than just pleasing yourself with your self expressions, you will need to address such basic questions.

      3. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

        “What could Bill have in store?” with the revenue he is hoarding, only not-really because of inflation and increased non-discretionary spending? He’s probably either planning on giving it to rich people because he’s an elitist, or poor people because he’s a pandering liberal.

        You keep losing Anon because of your conviction that Pittsburghers are simpletons who believe the most bellicose attacks, alarming half-truths and insipid reassurances that they hear. That probably works decently in the T where you do most of your business, but Pittsburgh is a well-networked and well-educated city. Your clients or patrons need to find other consultants or advisers, who respect the demands of earning trust in the smartest city in America.

        Take Joe Wos, for example. You had him turned around only long enough for people to tweet him and invite him to meet up and talk things through. I think there’s really something to this — City politicos need to dump their GOP operatives. They’re like fish out of water.

        Why are the Act 47 Coordinators recommending we shave a little off of last year’s 30% tax cut, Anon? Are they elitists, or tax-and-spenders, or machine-style, or part of the Blame America First crowd?

        I thought the “third party confirmation” was a good thing, Luke always pointed it out in his budgets when he could.

      4. Anonymous

        Losing? Losing to who? If you mean losing to the same three people that comment on this blog and pat each other on the back, then I wear that loss as a badge of honor. All you guys have done is launch attacks on people.

        As to gimmicks, what I am saying is very simple: revenue has increased year over year. Why would add in “non discretionary spending” into my looking at whether revenue has increased? As to adjusting for inflation, yes, I am adjusting for inflation. Revenue has increased year over year for the past eight years. Tell me where that is wrong????

      5. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

        If revenue can increase “year over year”, so can obligations like pensions, health care, workers compensation and debt service. If the combined increase in such comes to more than your end-over-end revenue increase, then revenue is not “keeping pace”.

        In this case, pensions alone increased by over $11 million since the previous year, single-handedly wiping out our tail-over-teakettle revenue increase.

      6. Brian Tucker-Hill

        The following assertions have been made:

        “Instead of getting creative and efficient, Bill has dramatically increased spending”

        “The wrong move now is to raise taxes. The correct move is to let the economic base grow and tax revenue will increase (or catch up). The only way you justify something else is if you want to give money to someone else. What could Bill have in store?”

        Obviously you have to subtract out non-discretionary legacy spending before making such claims (in any substantive way, at least). That is not spending Peduto is proposing to give to “someone else,” and indeed is not spending Peduto’s budget is proposing. Rather, that is spending which was proposed and then authorized in the past–it is just the bill which is now coming due.

        “As to adjusting for inflation, yes, I am adjusting for inflation. Revenue has increased year over year for the past eight years. Tell me where that is wrong????”

        That is not true of the budget documents I am looking at, but maybe you are looking at something else. What is your source, what does it give for revenue each year, and then how have you adjusted those amounts for inflation? Since you have already done this work, I assume you can provide us with this information in short order.

  4. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

    “I cut taxes a record-setting 30% in 2013, to hold government tax collection down after property reassessments. But that didn’t account for reassessment appeals. So the following year I made the tough call the State Financial Oversight boards confirm was necessary, and restored a mere 5% of that historic 30% tax cut to keep city services functioning. My opponent is totally misleading you, which is as sad as it is typical.”

    Free to all. <3

  5. Anonymous

    Here is campaign Bill, man I wish this guy would surface. Funny how he says nothing of a tax increase in his pledge. Instead, he talks about efficiencies and saving tens of millions of dollars. Well, that clearly didn’t happen. And, worse yet he hasn’t implemented the cash management system and is getting raked across the coals for not doing so. Hmmm, what has changed?

    The decision to enter Act 47 state oversight was one of the most difficult I have ever had to make as an elected official. In the dark days of 2003 and 2004, we were faced with an impossible choice: allow the City of Pittsburgh to descend into bankruptcy and financial ruin or enter Act 47 status to reduce our spending and right-size our city government. I rallied five Council members to take the latter path. We knew it would be difficult and that it would require sacrifices from many hard-working people across city government. But we also knew it was our only real choice. Bankruptcy would have meant crushing new taxes on every resident of Pittsburgh, a devastating reduction of services, and an exodus of businesses and investors from our city.

    We spent many long weeks and months negotiating with legislators in Harrisburg to craft a package of state aid, government reforms, small business tax cuts, and a modest tax for suburban residents who work in Pittsburgh. Taken together, these steps would be a roadmap back to fiscal health and sustainability. Unfortunately last-minute backroom deals in Harrisburg and the efforts of suburban legislators led by former Senators Jane Orie and Jack Wagner left Pittsburghers without the additional resources we were promised. Nonetheless, we worked together for the past 10 years to weather the storm and have emerged that much stronger for it. Pittsburgh has come roaring back. We have reduced our debt load, we have brought businesses back into the city and new residents along with them, we have revitalized neighborhoods that haven’t seen investment in years, and we have rebuilt our reputation among bond traders. But there is still much work to do to ensure that we continue on the path to prosperity and that old habits of borrowing too much and spending without care don’t reemerge and plunge us back into the red.

    1. Pittsburgh’s Path to Prosperity

    Pittsburgh is almost out of the woods. We need a Mayor who understands what it is going to take to get us past these last few hurdles and onto the path to prosperity. We are at a crossroads right now; a critical juncture at which we can take the right path and move forward or the wrong path and slide backward.

    First, we must expedite the complete installation and activation of the professional financial accounting system that I have been pushing for years and that this administration has been delaying for years. In the recently released Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority 2012 Annual Report the ICA notes that had this system been operational years ago we could have caught the alleged fraud and graft within the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police before it escalated to the level it has today. Without a comprehensive professional system for managing our finances we are left without the tools that we need to provide the fiscal control that Pittsburgh taxpayers deserve.

    Second, we have to finish implementing the agreed-upon recommendations from the second Act 47 Five Year Recovery Plan. These include major cost-saving measures like sharing bulk-purchasing with the County, implementing a facilities management plan, consolidating management of RAD parks and expanding the network, better managing our vehicle fleet, and finding efficiencies in our energy purchasing and use. These reforms would save the taxpayers tens of millions of dollars over time and free up money in the budget to reduce borrowing and invest more in neighborhoods.

    Third, we must reach the 2018 “debt cliff” without borrowing substantial new sums of money. In 2018 legacy costs from past borrowings begin to fall off dramatically and the city will spend nearly half as much on paying back our debt as we do now. This will free up tens of millions of dollars that we can invest into our neighborhoods. However, if we borrow irresponsibly between now and 2018 and make poor spending decisions then this opportunity will be lost and our debt payments will remain far too high far too long into the future to truly make the investments we need to build a Pittsburgh that works for everyone. We have to use this window to create a new sensible five-year economic plan that will carry us into the opportunity that awaits in 2018.

    Finally, Pittsburgh has to have a strong voice in Harrisburg to push for the common-sense reforms we need to grow our tax base and provide a better quality of life for all of our residents. This means reforming the property tax assessment system to protect low- and moderate-income homeowners and seniors, reforming our pension system to protect workers and achieve solvency, reforming transportation and infrastructure funding to protect and expand public transportation, and reforming economic development programs to ensure that state and federal dollars are going to the communities that need them most and are going to the projects that will best enhance growth and prosperity in those communities.

    I’ve been fighting for Pittsburgh’s Path to Prosperity for more than a decade. I know what needs to be done and I know how to do it. I have built partnerships across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and beyond that will work to help make it possible. I am ready to get to work with you to make this vision a reality and make Pittsburgh the city we know it can be.

    1. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

      He said nothing about a tax increase because this isn’t a tax increase, just like last year was not a 30% tax cut. They were both paper adjustments to keep revenues neutral with ’05-’12.

      To your point about “efficiencies” I asked an administration official last week what we can expect. They created the I&P department so we can actually measure outcomes in order to pursue efficiency, instead of wild guessing and relying on oral tradition. We’ll have to wait and see how that pans out I guess. There is also a joint city / county working group that has been meeting to identify opportunities to consolidate (one combined print shop for example) but these are things which cannot be implemented as soon as you sit down. By the time Bill faces voters again, he’ll either have a record on efficiency or he won’t… but it’s way to early.

  6. Anonymous

    Jacking up property taxes sure did hit the ground running. All the other stuff he slammed Ravenstahl for seems to all of a sudden need more time. He is a tax and spend mayor! I love the statement that he wants to protect the low and moderate income homeowners and seniors. They can say all they want that this isn’t a tax increase but my taxes have increased. I’m sick of this double speak B.S. If it quacks like a duck…A lot of Pittsburghers are being priced out of this vision of a posh, hipster new Pittsburgh. I guess when all of the dependences of the mill workers die off you will have your wonderful Ed-Med society that you envision. Do you see it looking like Point Breeze and the Lower Hill and nothing like South Oakland and West End?
    Bram, are you in this administration?

  7. Anonymous

    Well, if you’re not in the administration, you are missing your calling. They need a line-item for “mouth piece”.
    Do I need to wait for your more full throated, snarky reply to my post until your people send you your talking points? Is that the best you got? Tax and Spend, oh my. Yinz know better that me on how to distribute my limited funds. Yinz will decide what my Fair Share is.

    1. Brian Tucker-Hill

      Anon, you seem frustrated, but I think you should recognize that these are really frustrations of your own making.

      The basic problem is that the City does face a projected budgetary shortfall as a result of a combination of factors, including rising legacy costs and the overly-aggressive millage reduction. Overall revenues, contrary to the assertion above, are not in fact steadily growing in real terms, and in fact have proven volatile in various respects. As a result, the City, using standard forecasting practices, is in fact projecting a significant budget shortfall in coming years. Peduto’s proposed budget is not necessarily the only or best way to deal with these issues, but the issues are in fact real and need to be addressed in some way.

      You’ve offered here a couple things in response. One is a lot of anti-tax rhetoric that basically comes straight out of the Club For Growth playbook. All that may be heartfelt for you. But for people involved in serious budget discussions, it is a huge red flag, because most people who employ such rhetoric are not serious about budgeting, and are uninterested in reality-based budget discussions. And that is because they are starting with their preferred conclusion–that there should be no “tax increases” (broadly defined)–and reasoning backwards from there.

      In terms of proposals, you have basically suggested that the City should ignore the current projections and assume economic growth plus unquantiified efficiency gains will solve its budgetary problems in the future. That is also straight out of the Club for Growth playbook, and it is precisely that sort of kick-the-can practice that leads to future governments having to govern in perpetual crisis mode. That does not mean it is never appropriate to model possible revenue increases, but you have to do that with a conservative, reliable method, not as a matter of quasi-religious conviction, and in fact that is just what the City budget projections do.

      The upshot is that you can continue to work from the Club For Growth playbook if you like. But in that case, while you may encounter some other like-minded people, you will do nothing to persuade those who do not already agree with your sentiments that you are interested in, or capable of, participating in serious budget discussions. And you may find that frustrating, but that is because by working from that playbook, you are basically taking yourself out of the serious part of the conversation.

  8. Anonymous

    How dare you suggest I worship at the Club for Growth. I’ve never even heard of them. How condescending of you to also state that I’m just not a capable of serious discussion and that only bigger minds than mine can have an intellectual opinion. And to top it off you say that I seem frustrated and it’s of my own making. You sicken me with your rhetoric. It’s my money so don’t tell me to shut up! Do you always think you’re the smartest one in the room? Go shake some else down.

    1. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

      I for one am not questioning your intellect or your capability, and I apologize if I lent that impression. I’m questioning your sincerity. It’s a common obstacle when it comes to anonymous commenters with ferocious and well-polished political counterarguments, and that’s unfortunate. Using a real name is a good way to avoid those assumptions.

      ^^ There is the lengthier, “snarky” response you requested of me at 9:31. Thanks for being engaging.

      Here we go, Responsibility, here we go! [clap, clap!]

    2. Brian Tucker-Hill

      Anon at 4:29,

      Actually, the premise of my comment above was that you are capable of much more than has occurred in this thread. I personally have no doubt that it is not lack of ability, but rather the choices you are making, that has led to this point.

      I brought up the Club for Growth not to suggest that you are associated with them–you are posting anonymously and I have no idea who you are–but to explain that certain sorts of rhetoric have been used and re-used by entities like the Club for Growth as a deliberate substitute for rational discussion. So if you then rely on the same sort of rhetoric yourself (particularly as a anonymous contributor), the likely effect is that many people will come to the conclusion that you are simply doing the same sort of thing. Note, by the way, that the Club for Growth has been very successful at requiring various politicians and media figures to talk in the exact same way about these issues (on threat of punishment ranging up to the end of their careers as public figures). As a result, almost everyone has heard concepts and rhetoric scripted by the Club for Growth many times over, even if they are completely unaware of that particular organization’s existence and methods.

      In any event, of course you are free to ignore my advice. But if you are in fact frustrated and feeling like people here are not taking your views as seriously as they deserve, then I do think you would be well-advised to think about the issues I have raised.

      1. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

        The tendency to cry, “Only snobby elitists demand we account for facts beyond ‘tax and spend!’ and ‘it’s my money!’” is itself a part of that rhetoric BrianTH calls the “deliberate substitute for rational discussion”.

        Summarily, I’m interested where Harris, Lamb and the rump Ravenstahl constituency go with this. I image they’ll insist, “Let’s wait a couple years and see what happens first,” knowing how difficult it is to rationalize new millage rates once memories fade. But if we’re lucky they’ll highlight something worth $8 or $9 million in the budget we can all argue about.

    3. Anonymous

      Hey Anon, any smart person knows that if you are serious about budget discussions you must be on the side of raising taxes. If you want to talk about alternate revenue sources, or cutting expenses or patching holes until projected revenue catches up, then you are not serious. You are obviously just some lackey doing the bidding of fight right conservatives. So get in line, shut up and get serious!

      But hey, maybe you can join campaign Bill who last year proposed NO increase to tax revenue. I guess he didn’t know about the millage adjustment last year.

      1. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

        As you know, that was before both this news and this news.

        When was the parade for the 30% tax “cut” in 2013? Where are the marble statues of those lavishly generous miracle-workers? There were no celebrations nor congratulations in 2013 because there was no real 30% tax cut, just as there is no real tax increase now being sought. Both are adjustments to keep taxes neutral with what’s been working for Pittsburgh for over a decade, through reassessments and appeals. Have you read the post?

        Does anyone know the last time property tax rates actually changed? How long has it been? 2001, when we abandoned the Land / Value tax split? Around then politicians avoided touching the millage despite budget pressure by doing things like issuing pension bonds and selling off assets like the asphalt plant and the water department. We could still sell off our parking infrastructure, I guess…

      2. Brian Tucker-Hill

        Actually, to be serious about budget discussions, you have to start by abandoning the framing that either you can be “on the side of raising taxes” or on the side of “talk[ing] about alternate revenue sources, or cutting expenses or patching holes”, but not both. In response to a significant projected budget shortfall, it makes sense to put every aspect of the budget up for discussion, not wall off tax rates in particular as something that must only ever go down and never go up. It is precisely that refusal to re-consider every part of the budget, including taxation, that is so crippling to serious budget discussions, and ultimately leads to continual governing in crisis.

        Another thing you have to do if you want to be taken seriously is identify with specificity what alternative revenue sources, expenses, or holes you have in mind. The reason this is important is that it is a standard dodge to talk in general, uncontroversial terms about such budget measures, knowing that in actual practice, specific measures may well be far more controversial, and/or fail to provide enough budget improvement to close the projected shortfall.

        Finally, if your response to contrary points of view is to keep doubling down on the bare anti-tax rhetoric and also start adding in a healthy measure seething anti-elite resentment, then you will in fact continue to get confused with the Club for Growth/Tea Party types, because that is what they always do too in such conversations. Again, you may consider it terribly unfair to be associated with those types, but if you post anonymously and talk and act just like them, it is understandable people will start drawing that connection.

      3. Anonymous

        This should be very simple and all of the people posting here are failing to show with stats a very simple number. What was the revenue from real estate taxes the year prior to the assessment and what will revenue from real estate taxes be this year? It is very easy, does someone have that number?

      4. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

        2012 Actual: $132,347,363
        2013 Actual: $123,767,812
        2014 Budget: $128,770,493
        2015 Budget Proposal: $133,805,579

        Not sure how “simple” it is when we also need to look at obligations, but there are your numbers from the budget.

      5. Anonymous

        Thank you Bram. Very helpful. I was just getting lost with all the pro and con and no one was actually showing numbers.

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