Thursday, March 19, 2009

Misery Loves Company

At least one of Hannabelle's predictions about some negative effects of plopping an unlocked sex offender facility into a residential neighborhood apparently has already come true. Didn't I warn you that property values would drop while taxes would go up?

Its even worse than I imagined.

Not only did the estimated market value of our property drop substantially, and our property taxes take a 28% hike upwards, we apparently will now be taxed on a property value which exceeds what our property is worth. Huh? you say? Huh? I say. How can that be possible? How can you be ordered to pay taxes on more than your property is worth - and from whose ass did that number come from?

If the property is worth $300, shouldn't you pay taxes on that $300?

Not in Mille Lacs County.

For example, let's say your place was worth $300 before the city brought sex offenders into your neighborhood. Now - with the sex offenders - your property value has dropped to $200. Let's say your taxes used to be $10 per year. Now they've been raised to $75. And somehow, even though your place is now only worth $200 and your taxes have leapt up, you are suddenly being taxed on a property value of not $200, not $300 BUT $500. Does this make sense?

Only in Mille Lacs County.

Of course, to simplify, for my little example I made up these numbers, without doing accurate math, primarily because to me it seemed like one of those arithmetic problems - a train leaves San Francisco heading east at 28 miles per hour while a train leaves New York heading west at 35.... I used to hate those. I much preferred the 2 + 2 = 4 straight forward problems. In the case of our taxes, I have no idea where the numbers came from. They seem arbitrary. Its like 2 - 1 + 3 x a + b (carry the 1) stop for pie and the answer is: a 28% raise in our taxes (while meanwhile Nexus gets a tax-free ride). YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT????

Well, actually I do.

Property values have gone up every year for.... every year. Now suddenly our place is worth less - for no reason at all? Well, I think we know what the reason is... And our taxes have sky-rocketed? That figure of 28% is real. I didn't make that up. And while ordinary citizens are struggling in a bad economy, both the county and the city of Onamia gave Nexus, (a privately owned commercial enterprise which subsists primarily through our tax dollars and which made over $40 million last year) - had the audacity to grant them tax abatement - meaning that THEY don't have to pay property taxes... ever ... We pay taxes so Nexus doesn't have to... Does that seem fair? No? Then why didn't you SAY something? Why did you let the government screw you over???

Anyway, perhaps there is a "mistake" on our taxes. But apparently, it isn't just our household that got hit with such a "mistake". The county accessor is prepared to address everyone's concerns on April 3 and April 10. They must expect quite a few "concerns"....

So... taxes raised. Property values down. And taxable market values pulled out of somebody's ass. The county eliminated 5 county jobs recently due to lack of funds. Yeah, sure the economy is crumbling. But while we struggle, Nexus doesn't have to pay taxes, the former CEO got his Golden Parachute, and the community which virtually ignored the tax abatement issue has now focused their attention on getting a new library in Onamia ... as if people in this county read while sitting in their deer stands... And of course yet another tax levy is proposed in order to support the library. Just what we need - more taxes.

Maybe there is a simple explanation to our personal tax problem and things will get sorted out after we talk to the county accessor. Hey! Maybe I'll see you down at the courthouse, standing in line. I'll be the one wearing a tee-shirt that says: "I told you so!"

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