The Herald-Sun reported Durham County officials are considering a 0.15-cent tax decrease (from 74.59 to 74.44 per $100 assessed value). This “decrease” amounts to a $2.25 reduction on the tax bill for a $150,000 house (June 13), which Commissioner Reckhow suggests will “buy you a cup of coffee.”
But multiplied by the number of Durham houses, this reduction yields $400,000 to $450,000. County officials would turn their backs on funds that could meet crucial needs for a tax “decrease” so minute it is insignificant at the individual level.
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At the June 11 Board of County Commissioners meeting, a stream of citizens spoke eloquently of funding needs for at-risk youth programs, school infrastructure and environmental improvement projects — which this $2.25 tax decrease could fund. Or it could fund other crucial needs: salary increases for EMTs or DSS line workers; affordable housing or health care programs; a transportation system to the downtown Senior Center for elders who don’t drive; technology upgrades in county departments or schools. It could fund a new ambulance or snow removal equipment; special projects or events; or better animal control services or debris removal after the destructive storm.
Elected officials should be fiscally responsible and prevent government waste. But they are also elected to serve the common good. This tax decrease is questionable on both counts. There are many uses for $400,000, including those named above, that would serve the common good and be better use of these funds than an individual tax “reduction” so small it returns a $2.25 “a cup of coffee" to our individual households.