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Friday, May 6, 2016

Ross Rambles: Whispering down the lane

Monday, November 14, 2005

Sometimes I hear about things I wrote in the paper that are unfamiliar to me. Somewhere between when it appeared in the paper and it gets back to me, the information gets muddled.

I'll give an example of how I think this works. A group of people are sitting around drinking coffee, complaining about the general incompetence of everybody who is not at the table drinking coffee with them and griping about impositions those incompetent people place on their lives.

Somebody mentions the $400,000 the city is planning to spend on a fancy swimming pool. He argues that the city could build something for less than that, like the mud pit with a rope swing he played in when he was a kid.

Following the general theme of griping about the high cost of government spending, somebody mentions that the state has increased residential valuations of property for tax purposes by 9 percent throughout Cherokee County. This was done as part of the every-other-year adjustment of property values based on market trends within the county.

So what is brought away from the coffee group discussion by those who are assimilating this information for the first time is that the city is increasing property taxes by 9 percent to pay for a fancy swimming pool.

This misperception has actually been circulating and is based on two pieces of information that appeared in the newspaper, but have nothing to do with each other.

Some may think that the solution to this problem is to break up these coffee groups, maybe providing them with some less hazardous activity to occupy their time, such as digging mud pits for children to swim in.

However, I believe that people should be allowed to drink coffee together if they do it responsibly. People engaged in such activity need to refrain from trying to absorb more than one fact during any one coffee drinking session.

If, for example, one person mentions that many kids have been staying home from school with nausea and another person mentions that some teacher is requiring students to read the Chronicle Times on a daily basis, those two facts should not be assimilated at the same time.

Regarding the effect of the bond on property tax, the estimate of the increase in the debt service levy to pay for a $400,000 bond is 50 cents per $1,000 taxable valuation.

The current total property tax in Cherokee is $38.34053 per $1,000 of taxable valuation which is 48.458 percent of assessed valuation for residential property. This total is a combination of city tax ($16.47315), school tax ($16.02282), county tax ($4.20) and miscellaneous taxes of about $1.64.

An increase of 50 cents would be 1.3 percent of the total property tax, about 3 percent of city tax.

Since I've already gone beyond a one-fact limit, I might as well note that the tax rate fluctuates from year to year so the 50 cents won't necessarily be the precise percentage that I've stated. In fact, there might not be any increase in city tax, since the city is retiring well over $400,000 in debt. There will likely be a net decrease in the debt service levy. Not receiving a decrease in tax that a taxpayer would otherwise receive is still a cost to the taxpayer.

Now you have several facts. Don't try to disseminate these facts through someone hopped up on coffee.