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TAXES: Values down but not our taxes

Letter by Steve Hiatt Sr., Gig Harbor on June 19, 2012 at 10:04 am with 52 Comments »
June 19, 2012 12:07 pm

Re: “Local homes values plummet” (TNT, 6-19).

Tax values may be lower, but our property tax rate has increased 35.8 percent since the beginning of 2009. The net effect is that our taxes have not gone down with the decrease in assessment.

Examining the City of Tacoma’s general budget at the height of the bubble (2007-2008) compared to the 2011-2012 budget, the difference is approximately 1 percent.

We own several parcels on Pacific Avenue. To obtain tenants after the 2008 financial crisis, we had to reduce our rents by more than 50 percent from 2008 levels. Our tenants are small family businesses. They cannot afford these increases.

Leave a comment Comments → 52
  1. LeePHill says:

    Another business seeking governmental solutions to their capitalistic business.

    Something tells me that Hiatt would want tax discounts even if the rents collected were at record levels.

    Steve, you need to tell the government to tax poor people so that those of you second and third generation people of wealth don’t have to sacrifice so much.

  2. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    Steve, I share your pain along with everyone in Pierce County.

    My property lost 35% of it’s value and my property tax has only gone down about 3% since 2008.

    I called the Assessors office and asked them just that question. Their answer was, “don’t blame our office, it’s the db voters that keep approving tax levies that raise your taxes and theirs, we only collect what they vote for”.

    Voters should look at the breakdown of your property taxes and see how much you are paying for bad schools that pump out dumb kids, closed or poorly maintained parks and overpaid firemen and their bloated, expensive and unstainable retirement plans.

    When will voters wake up and stop falling for the “hat or fireboot in hand” and “the sky will fall” story line by the teacher and firemen unions. WAKE UP PEOPLE and look at what you are costing yourself. Stop being suckered by the union talking points.

    Want your taxes to go down, stop voting for school and fire levies that just maintain the unions status quo.

  3. philichi says:

    Steve, Great letter. It is no longer about small family businesses. It is about public sector unions, teachers and others, needing more of your money and lifer energy for their salaries, healthcare cost, and retirement plans. They tax you all that and they are still short. We now all work for them.

  4. Mr. Hiatt is not en economist and neither are any of his supporters here. With a fixed or growing population the cost of government will remain nearly the same or grow even in a deep recession. It has little or nothing to do with public sector unions.

  5. igotdabombfool says:

    Regardless of everything…it still doesn’t explain why when the voters voted for a tax increase that is tied to their property value that is decreasing, why doesn’t the tax also decrease?

    10% of $1000 is $100.
    10% of $100 is not $100+.

  6. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    You liberal progressive liberals have a very short memory. Let me help school you using the City of Tacoma Budget as an example.

    “Jeff Litchfield, the city’s interim finance director, forecast a $60 million to $65 million gap in the city’s 2013-14 general fund budget and an $80 million to $85 million shortfall in the 2015-16 budget. “

    “A gap of $30 million – it weighs heavy on my shoulders,” Litchfield said.

    “Salaries and benefits account for about 60 percent of the expenditures in the general fund, Litchfield said. “

    “I think this is really the heart of what we have to deal with,” Mayor Marilyn Strickland said. “We need concessions from everyone.”

    refresh your memory here:
    http://www.thenewstribune.com/2012/06/05/2170500/huge-budget-gaps-ahead-for-city.html

    This is Strickland’s code for public sector unions; their bloated salaries, benefits and unsustainable retirement cost are driving us to bankruptcy. We will never rein in our property taxes until we rein in the primary cost driver, cty/county government unions. They must be broken and starving the city and county is the only way to drive both to bankruptcy. As we saw in two of California’s largest cities that when faced with bankruptcy 70% of the voters threw the government unions under the bus without a second thought. The same will happen here once we reach the edge of bankruptcy. We are almost there now because voters will no longer vote for tax increases and the city is unable to perform the simplist of services like fixing a pothole with new taxes.

    Yes Pub, the unions are the cause of the cancers in our government budgets.

  7. Leaving the waste in govt aside, how can a city budget if tax revenue fluctuates with the housing market perfectly? If property values rise/fall on a predictable path it would be one thing. But they obviously do not. And when the values decline, the cost of running a city does not.

    We are discussing two totally separate issues. Yes, the city is mismanaged and inefficient.

  8. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    igotdabombfool,

    Don’t feel bad, these tax schemes are meant to confuse you.

    Don’t focus on only the levy rate. It’s a moving number affected by home values. Focus on the levy amount. If the levy amount increases from year to year you can calculate the tax increase by percent increase. Your home value could go down to zero but the levy rate just increases to keep up with the levy amount. The levy amount is what you pay and is a fixed number. As your home value goes down the levy rate increases so your levy amount stays the change.

    In short, if you pay $900 this year to the schools and your house is worth $250,000, you will still pay $900 next year even if your home goes down 50% in value. Thank your democrat legislator for this very fuzzy math levy calculations.

    Don’t believe me, call the tax assessor’s office and ask them. Unlike the name calling liberals that post here I do my homework and state the facts.

  9. Pecksbadboy says:

    Every time you vote for a school levy, 911 upgrade, Sound Transit, Teacher pay or Metro Parks you are raising you taxes every year whether you property value has raised or not.

    Voter never read after the first line of the ballot measure.

  10. Pecksbadboy says:

    Don’t blame Liberals, blame the uneducated GOP who think they gain services for every yes vote because they live in an apartment or lease their condo.

  11. “In short, if you pay $900 this year to the schools and your house is worth $250,000, you will still pay $900 next year even if your home goes down 50% in value. Thank your democrat legislator for this very fuzzy math levy calculations.”

    What fuzzy math? When voters approve bond levies the bondholder wants to be paid back their money plus interest. There’s nothing fuzzy at all about monthly payments to pay off a loan. The payment is the same whether or not your home values goes up or down.

  12. Taxed- how does the city pay salaries/debt if they lose 30% of tax revenue in a downturn? Those costs are long term and basically fixed.

  13. Chippert says:

    Steve, I absolutely agree with you. One of the problems is that people keep voting them in. They see “SCHOOLS” or “PARKS” on the ballot and the voter’s pamphlet says that it is “only” another $1.25 per $1,000 assessed value and they think “what’s another dollar and a quarter?”. There goes the yes votes and up goes our taxes. Or the ballot says it is not a new tax but a “renewal” and then adds a new tax to the ballot as well.

    Yes, we are our own worst enemies at the ballot box.

  14. took14theteam says:

    So if the payment is the same regardless of your assessed value, Why do the taxes go up when value goes up, but they never go down when the value goes down?

    Because the receiving agency (government) spends like a kid in the candy store when times are good and then expects to keep the same revenue stream when times are bad, thus screwing the people that actually have to pay their bills.

    That is the consequence of a Democrat controlled stronghold on government. So hopefully the stooges in this state will wake up and see what voting democrat for governor for 24 years has done to them and not be the definition of insanity.

    And Pecksbadboy, I am pretty sure it is all the free loading liberals living in apartments pulling all the levy yes vote levers because THEY are ignorant thinking they are screwing that rich guy that owns a house.

  15. LeePHill says:

    “Yes, we are our own worst enemies at the ballot box.”

    Yeah. Especially when Costco says “we’ll sell you alcohol cheaper”

  16. LeePHill says:

    I wonder if Taxedenough volunteered to reduce his wages to save his company money when he was “promoted” to management from a union position.

    There is nothing stopping managers and executives from taking lower salaries, other than their greed and the arrogance that makes them believe they are worth more.

  17. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    CT7 asked, “how does the city pay salaries/debt if they lose 30% of tax revenue in a downturn? Those costs are long term and basically fixed.”

    Nothing is fixed.

    Maybe the city should try something new. Reforms that lead to cost savings are the same a revenue. When you look at the overall cost of local goverment, fraud, waste and abuse plus the cost of the bloated union contracts there is easily 30% of saving here.

    Time for the 4 R’s. Reforms, reductions in force, refine government, reduce regulationss so they can reduce staff.

  18. Taxed- I feel like Larry, but after your savings, what happens in a decade if we go through another downturn? Labor and debt payments are fixed.

  19. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    CT7 asks
    “What happens in a decade if we go through another downturn? Labor and debt payments are fixed.”

    Answer,
    Nothing is fixed. You look at what is going on right now in cities across this nation. You declare bankruptcy and you let a judge negate the irresponsible, overpaid, bloated and unstainable union contracts. You do what many companies and industries have done. In bankruptcy everyone will get a haircut.

    By the time it happens here, and it will happen soon because we are going broke, the courts will have lots of precedents to work from.
    16 cities and counting:

    http://halfwayinteresting.com/Pages/UnitedStatesofAmerica/tabid/86/entryid/362/16-Cities-Likely-to-Declare-Bankruptcy.aspx

    A smart city or county worker would be smart to leave the public sector now, cash out their retirement and join us in the private (non union)sector.

  20. “To obtain tenants after the 2008 financial crisis, we had to reduce our rents by more than 50 percent from 2008 levels.”

    And I will wager you vote the R and will continue to vote the R.

  21. “Our tenants are small family businesses. They cannot afford these increases.”

    Then back off on your greed and put a bit less in your pocket.

  22. - better sit down – I agree with your 1:45 post. The City needs a certain amount of money,so as property values go down the assessments go up.

    The same things happen in Public Water Supplies – when people use less water the rates go up so the Utilities income remains level.

    I also agree with your 2:50 post – think I better go do my Tai Chi now.

  23. As long as you keep voting for demokrats you will see this type of government. They never get enough of your money.

  24. And things will be even worse under a RepubliCorp government where greed is good only for the rich.

  25. SteveHiattSr says:

    Dear LeePHill; Please consider the below:

    1. We lost our family dealership in the financial crisis of 2008.

    2. When GM went bankrupt in2009, our bestselling brands were eliminated, Pontiac and GMC Commercial Trucks over 10,000 GVW, so even if we had stayed in business our franchises were toast or ghosts.

    3. 55 real families lost their jobs instantly, including me.

    4. Both family businesses who rent from us work hard together to make ends meet. Both spouses, who are baby boomers and their children, go to work each day and work long hours.

    5. You must have me confused with someone else. In 1970 my selling career started at H-D of Tacoma, after 5 years Walker Chevrolet let me join their sales staff. After 10 years at Walker, working my way up to Sr manager, GM helped me become a dealer. My parents have not passed any wealth to me. My 91 year old father, who just went to Heaven this April, worked at Boeings and the Ministry. My 86 year old wonderful mother accepts the help us five bothers.

    6. We have learned to live on much less; we have a lot to be thankful for! Why can’t the government do the same?

  26. Dale Washam is a joke. Vote him out and you’ll get a fair tax rate.

  27. Wow. That first comment was just a little off.

  28. averageJoseph says:

    Yes CT7… are we surprised?

  29. commoncents says:

    This argument is tired…by now everyone knows that the tax rate does not corrolate to the valuation of your individual home/business but instead to the RELATIONSHIP between the valuation of your home/business to every other home/business in the county. The ONLY way for our taxes to go down in real dollars is for services to be cut. I have elected people (ok, the person I voted for lost but still…) to make those cuts as they see fit. We can argue all day about what services need to be cut and even if they are even bothering to cut which Mr. Piatt alluded to with his 1% comment…but arguing about the valuation in relation to taxes is just plain silly.

  30. You declare bankruptcy and you let a judge negate the irresponsible, overpaid, bloated and unstainable union contracts. You do what many companies and industries have done. In bankruptcy everyone will get a haircut.

    Love how declaring bankruptcy has somehow come to represent fiscal responsibility.

    Or that reneging on contracts is seen as a conservative value.

  31. I’m a lefty so I honor my debts – and my contractual agreements, even if they are only sealed with a handshake.

  32. Lets see, a Dem President, a Dem Senate, 2 Dem Senators, a Dem Governor, a Dem state senate, a Dem state House of Reps, and we’re facing the worst financial problems ever. Taxes are higher than ever, services are worse than ever before. People are disgruntled.

    I think you’re right, it’s all Bush’s fault. Dang GOP is just killing this country.

  33. “t is about public sector unions, teachers and others, needing more of your money and lifer energy for their salaries, healthcare cost, and retirement plans.”

    Little philly hasn’t had an original thought in decades.

  34. “Remember. Obama was going to take care of that.”

    Really? When did he say that?
    Oh wait, your a conservative, you make stuff up.

  35. Prove someone wrong.

  36. CT7 – the onus of proof is upon the person making the first assertion, not on the people who disagree. If, and when, the first assertion is backed by evidence then the burden of proof shifts to those who disagree.

    The post-modern idea that all opinions are equally valid and have no need for any connection to facts seems to be one that is embraced by many internet tea typists.

  37. LeePHill says:

    CT7 says:
    June 20, 2012 at 10:03 pm Prove someone wrong.

    Uranus is made up of green cheese. Prove me wrong.

  38. Maybe, the problem is how we collect taxes and from whom.

  39. LeePHill says:

    Steve Hiatt, Sr – Welcome to America!

    Now, I have my choice of being empathetic to your losses or I could be like a conservative and say you didn’t manage your business well enough, thus your inability to keep it running.

    There is an entire sector of Americans that claims you have no right to government intervention on your behalf or the behalf of your business, regardless of your problems and your history. They’ll tell you that you lived too high on the hog when you were in the good times and that you should have saved for a rainy day.

    The guy that they are voting for this election is a guy that makes a living from bankrupting companies and putting a hell of a lot more than 55 families out of work. They say this is good business and good capitalism. They would say you just need to get to work and patch your wounds.

    If your name is nothing more than a coinsidence, my apologies, but what a coinsidence, huh?

  40. LeePHill says:

    jondo – do you have a better system? I think we’d all like to hear it.

  41. Washington state, has the most regressive tax system in the nation, the poorest 20 percent pay an average tax rate of 17.3 percent while the top 1 percent pay just 2.3 percent.

    Maybe, we should have listened to Mr. Gates Sr.

  42. Bb- are you really jumping to defend a poster who has not brought one fact to these boards despite hundreds of posts?

    An no, if a statement of fact is made and is widely accepted as true, it is up to someone else to disprove.

  43. LeePHill says:

    “Bb- are you really jumping to defend a poster who has not brought one fact to these boards despite hundreds of posts?”

    I didn’t see bB defending CT7

  44. LeePHill says:

    “An no, if a statement of fact is made and is widely accepted as true, it is up to someone else to disprove”

    You mean that “Labor and debt payments are fixed.” is a “fact” and “widely accepted as true”?

    The problem is that the Wisconsin public employee disprove your allegation. They made financial concessions on wages and benefits prior to Scott Walker kicking them in the teeth.

    Not “fixed” at all.

    Your problem, CT7, is that you think because you say something, that makes it a fact, when the fact is that rarely is anything you say factual.

  45. The gut currently wasting space in the White House is the one who put auto dealers out of business with his lap dogs in the UAW.

  46. corrction, “the guy, not gut”

  47. PumainTacoma says:

    When over 80% of our budget is for salaries and benefits we have to start pulling folks off the “public dough” bottle before we go bankrupt. As for taxes why keep voting for these insane bonds and levies. That includes the schools. Stop voting for every school levy to bus kids within a mile of their school, when we spend millions to transport kids. Many can and should walk or take the bus or ride their bike. We’re raising a bunch of spoiled brats wanting everyone else to pay for their education, transportation and of course pension. And yet 50% of the population pays taxes, go figure.

  48. To complain that most of the budget for teachers is for salaries seems more than a little odd to me.

  49. The same continuing complaint. My assessed valuation has gone down 48% since 2008. It was never worth the high side of 2008. Never the less, taxes, that is, budgets are spread out over the taxable assessments. The real issue is what our governmental leaders agree to fund, and, the voters agree to self assess themselves for. Keep adding to the sales tax and sales taxes go up! Duh! As long as the city council and the school board continues to agree to increasingly more expensive labor contracts for wages and benefits, the budgets will continue to go up. And, my taxes will go up. The part-time city council members have absolutely no skill or back bone in dealings with labor unions. The contracts are overly generous, and, need to be cutback. Not just no raises, but, cut wages and increased costs for health insurance and retirement contributions. There is just so much money to go around, and, I’d like to keep some of it.

  50. Bush and his 3 rubberstamp congresses had 6 years to:

    reform immigration,

    return pray to public schools, and

    pass conational amendments requiring;

    balanced budgets,

    outlawing abortions, and

    defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

    NONE were passed.

  51. ‘pass constitutional’

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