Here’s a worthwhile exercise. Pick a house value — the median for your town, perhaps — and search your town’s tax rolls for every house of about that value. Then go back a few years, find the same houses, and see how things have changed.
For Tiverton, I used $260,000, which is around the median for the town, with this result:
In 2009, which is the first year for which the town has tax rolls that are easy to search on the computer, those same households paid $4,231, and the average value of their homes was $294,843. In other words, each family is now paying $744 more in taxes, even though each house is worth about $35,000 less.
Of course, that doesn’t tell the whole story because for the past three years, voters have used the [financial town referendum] to keep their taxes from increasing more than 0.9%. From 2009 to 2013, before the first zero-point-something FTR, those 37 taxpayers lost 14% of the value of their homes, but their actual tax payments went up 16%. Does that seem fair? Would Mr. Edwards tell his neighbors, “Hey, don’t worry! We ‘only’ added $166 to your tax bill every single year, and you ‘only’ lost $11,563 of your house’s value each year”?
Those who run government, and those who profit from it, are focused on their expenditures and finding ways to get taxpayers to keep handing over more and more money for their use and personal gain. Hey, $166 added per year is only $3 per week. If everybody in town would just skip a couple of coffees every week, they can collectively hand over millions more of their dollars to the town government.
Of course, after a few years of that, the entire town has had to give up the pleasure of coffee altogether, but it’s for the greater good, right? And we can feel comfortable letting the people who benefit from the money decide what the greater good is, can’t we?