(Note: I’m writing this post because I think it affects all of us, not just those of us who live in Davidson County, TN.)
Here’s the latest about the Davidson County/Nashville [tag-tec]Tax Referendums [/tag-tec].
They passed. Overwhelmingly. In fact, it was such a landslide it surprised even the people behind them.
What the referendums were about concerned the raising of property tax rates by the Metro Council. For the last few appraisal cycles property taxes have risen at an alarming rate. Landlords and investors have been hit particularly hard as seemingly indifferent and somewhat arrogant council members have advised us to just get used to it.
"What voters are saying is that we want to take some of this authority back from the Metro Council and reserve it for ourselves, for the voters," ballot measure organizer Ben Cunningham told the Tennessean newspaper.
That means that from now on any property tax rate increase will have to be approved by the voters. Take a second and let that soak in. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
But that’s not all of the story. This measure only concerns tax rate increases. It does not state we won’t be paying more tax. Our taxes will increase as our property values go up.
That’s hard to digest is you’re in a neighborhood that suddenly gets hot. Sure, it’s flattering when people drive by in expensive cars obviously envying what you have. There have been cases where such folk have knocked on doors asking, sometimes demanding, owners sell to them. Not very mannerly but that’s what strong market forces can sometimes do to people.
Meanwhile taxes have escalated.
But yesterday’s vote is the first sign of a movement. Cunningham’s group only spent $2000 for automated phone calls. They had sent out informal e-mail reminders and that was about it. They didn’t even have a formal organized committee.
Whew. That’s a far cry from the millions spent across the nation in the House and Senate races. Maybe it’s not necessary to spend a lot, hmmmm? If you hit the right nerve with voters/property owners then the water will seek its own level.
If elected officials are paying close attention to all of this maybe they’ll finally get the message. You can’t arbitrarily use a property owner as an ATM machine. You can’t tell a landlord or investor to go up on the rent on a whelm. Business doesn’t operate like that. Often times tenants have leases. Market forces play a major role in how much you can rent your units for.
Something else important happened. Another referendum was passed to protect our elderly [tag-ice]property [/tag-ice] owners. Their tax bills will not increase as their houses gain value. In other words, older people will not be kicked out of their homes and neighborhoods so that younger, more tax-able owners can move in.
I’m going to make a stand here. I fully support all of it. In fact, I went out in the rain so I could vote. I don’t think the fire department or police services will suddenly stop, or that children will not be educated because of it. I do think spending just got a little more under control before our money runs out.
Maybe voting really does matter after all. The ATM machine is now closed.