The Polk County Tax Assessors were recently tasked to go out and reassess real property for the purpose of increasing revenues. The strategy being to increase appraised values, then the county commissioners and school board increase the millage rates on the increased values.
Of course, when this is presented to the board of commissioners, the school board, and the tax commissioner, the response is to basically deny this. However, those of us who lay our yearly tax bills down side by side can "connect the dots."
The citizens of Polk County who read this paper on a regular basis are familiar with and have read the discussions regarding revenue shortfalls in the school budget as well as the maintenance and operating budget.
To the average citizen, there is no clear evidence that there has been an increase in the number of school age children and there is no significant evidence that the county is spending additional money on maintenance and operating activities.
So, the question becomes, why is there a shortfall in revenue? Could it be that we have been in a recession for the past several years? Could it be that revenues are down because homes have been going into foreclosure? Could it be that homes have been sold for reduced prices?
Within my neighborhood, there are pieces of property that have been on the market for several years. There are also homes that have gone into foreclosure. I'm willing to bet that my neighborhood is typical of other areas in the county.
A search this week indicated that there are 270 homes in foreclosure in the county.
If the School Board, the County Commissioners and the Tax Commissioner continue with the strategy they appear to be following, the outcome will be more homes going into foreclosure and more short sales of homes.
That is a downward spiral that does not increase revenue but does the opposite.
I want to caution our county leaders that many of us do not have the option of increasing our revenue. Those that have jobs are lucky to be able to keep them. Many of the rest of us are on fixed incomes.
To increase the tax burden at this time is detrimental to the overall health and well being of this county.
Please rethink your strategy. Live within the income level that you have, just as the citizens must.