#ncga: Dollar, Saine scoring political points at county govt expense

A reader raised this possibility earlier.  After looking into it, I think the reader may have a point.

There was existing legislation granting property tax exemptions for the first $45,000 in appraised value to “disabled veterans.”

( That sounds so nice.  But the legislation makes no distinction between the guy who ripped his Achilles tendon while playing for the battalion basketball team stateside, and the guy who got IEDed in Mosul.) 

For those of you who don’t know, property taxes are one of the biggest ways county governments fund their operations.  Legislation like this really lays a wallop on counties that have a large active duty and veteran population, like: Moore, Cumberland, and Onslow for starters.    There are no reductions in state and federal mandates assessed against these county governments.  But they are expected to provide the same amount of stuff with fewer people paying in.

Now comes the legislation from state Reps. Jason Saine and Nelson Dollar.  They are adding “emergency services personnel” to the property tax exemption.  The Saine-Dollar bill also exempts the full appraised value of the property from taxation.  So, your county government is still going to be expected to pay for the same amount of stuff with even fewer people paying into the pot.  

And get this: Under the Saine-Dollar legislation, if you are NOT a disabled veteran or emergency services worker or married to one or a immediate family member to one, but co-own property with one, YOU GET THE PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION TOO.  So, that’s another batch of people who won’t be dropping anything (or as much) into the plate. 

I am all for minimizing the tax burden on people.  But mandating all of these services while exempting more and more people from funding them is as stupid as what DC has been doing for all of these years:  cutting taxes but NOT CUTTING SPENDING. 

What options does this legislation leave county governments?  Same level of mandates, but fewer people paying in? Cut services, or raise property tax rates.

If this passes — and I’m sure it will — here is what will happen.  You’ll get county governments complaining about shortfalls and running to Raleigh.  Raleigh will then cut more checks and mail them out to all points from Murphy to Manteo.  More government dependence.  More government spending.  But the firemen and cops got a solid done for them. And the legislators get some good fodder for campaign ads next time around.

If you’re going to do this, balance these exemptions out with a reduction in mandates on county and local governments.