Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wouldn't Have Predicted This

Millages for roads,fire and police passed in Unadilla Township, and for schools in Fowlerville and Hartland in elections on Tuesday (May 5, 2009), according to unofficial results at the Livingston County Clerk's office.


kevins said...

I'm surprised that you are surprised by this. They were all renewals, and county voters are willing to maintain current funding for something they have already approved.

Also, the school votes weren't all that hard for voters if they understood the issue. This was for nonhomestead renewals, which means most voters were approving a tax that others -- and not them -- would have to pay. Nonhomestead is applied on rental properties, second homes, cottages, commercial property, etc. Most people who voted "yes" won't pay a dime of that tax.

So why were you surprised?

Jordan G said...

Did you vote (or would you have voted) for or against the millages? Pick your answer below, and you have the response.

If yes: then I would say it is surprising that you want to continue funding the "big government" ideology. An ideology that can't continue unless millages like these are approved. I would say it is surprising that you (and the other residents) didn't follow the "starve the beast" mentality.

If no: then I would say it is surprising that you are in the minority. Your side seems to carry themselves with such confidence, that to lose across the board yesterday can only be described as an upset.

kevins said...

Well, I didn't vote in any of the elections, but I would have voted "yes" in any of them.

Your argument seems to imply that there are only two positions: Support all tax requests or oppose all tax requests. I would suggest there is reasonable room between those two points.

Perhaps I am wrong to blindly support renewals, but I figure a spending level had been set and government can use that predictable flow of income to provide services. Remember that prior to the recent property value crash, even renewals were increases for homeowners (whose assessments were going up) and for local governments (who were benefitting from increased assessments AND from new growth.) That's not happening now, obviously.

There are people out there, such as me, who think government can spend its money more wisely. Rather than debate that, it is more convenient for you to say we are all blind anti-government "kill the beast" types who want to destroy government. It's not true, but it makes life easier for you.

Here's a few points about how "bad" local government has had it. I read in the newspaper that Brighton City officials admit that for most of the last decade their revenue grew by 8 percent a year even though their population growth in the land-locked, built-up city was flat. Is it wrong for a local taxpayer to believe that the city should be able to survive...thrive?....on an 8 percent growth rate? Had a city taxpayer voted against a tax increase during that time, would he be trying to "kill the beast.?" Or just stop it from multiplying?

I'm looking at the budgets for the last 5-10 years for local schools. Despite all their crying, they are almost always getting more revenue each year than the preceding year, even when enrollment is declining. It may not be as much money as they want, but it's still an increase.

Which brings me to another point. Many times governments talk about "cuts" when they really mean they aren't getting the increase they want...but they are still getting more than the previous year.

Livingston County voters, who seem to be favor smaller governments, still approve almost every renewal. I can only recall two defeats -- Brighton schools in the aftermath of district mismanagement; and a Howell Headlee nonhomestead override a few years back when voters were angry about huge administrative raises (voters later approved the override.)

When I lived in the Brighton school district, pre-Proposal A, we had a monstrously high school property tax and voters regularly approved and increased it.

So while it is convenient to dismiss as extremists those people who want responsible spending, the facts don't bear it out. Taxpayers have been scammed for their generosity, which is what happened when Howell schools took $70 million out of the community for a high school that sits empty. I guess had I voted against that fiasco, you would have accused me of trying to "kill the beast." Well, that was a beast that should have been killed.

It's different now for governments and some, maybe many, will be dealing with actual declines in revenue (something that has faced many businesses for years, which is finally trickling down to government). But for a long time, the money was flowing in generously to government. Even The Gov, when she talks about cutbacks, has to use inflationary dollars to make her point ... because until this year at least, real dollars in the general fund have continued to grow. When they have made cuts in the past, it is because their projected growth wasn't as high as they wanted it to be.

Last year, for example, they passed a budget that was 3 percent HIGHER in spending that the current year. I know a lot of businesses that would kill for 0 growth. The state can't make do with 3 percent growth.

Your comment that it was surprising that county residents didn't "starve" the beast is an arrogant view of working county residents. It makes me wonder if you feel that the purpose for county residents is to find jobs so they can pay taxes to governments. That seems to be the attitude of some.

kevins said...

Here's another way to look at it.

Some big government types like to point out an important program and demand that additional funding (taxes) be used to support it.

Others say: Why not divert poorly used money into those programs? The good program gets funded, inefficient or unneeded programs get cut, and taxes stay the same or, gasp, are lowered.

What's wrong with that reasoning? Does that make me a "kill the beast" advocate?

Just wondering.