Library Tax Special Report
Josephine County Families Under Tax Threat
John Taft Investigative Reporter Ed/Op
April 12, 2004
GRANTS PASS, Oregon Ė Property tax proponents are like fleas on a dog, you canít get rid of them. This time they want you to scratch their itch and put a lien on your home to fund their pet social program, the public library. They would like voters to think ogres, trolls, and Scrooge are the ones opposing this tax. Well, it isnít so. Libraries do provide a public benefit in dispersion of books, reference materials, free computer use, magazines, and newspapers to all comers. Then arenít libraries a good thing for a community to have? The answer is yes and no. Yes, if the community can afford the cost, and they are supported by revenue other than a compulsory tax on family homes. Whether Library Director Sue Luce and supporters ask you to give them the price of a weekly sirloin dinner for two or the cost of a cup of coffee daily is immaterial. The concept of using a property tax on homes to fund government services is flawed.
Commissioners Aid and Abet More Taxes on Family Homes
The property taxes on homes are an expedient an unethical method of obtaining money to run government funded departments. However, voters are becoming more sophisticated in learning the evils of a property tax on homes. Recent county elections bear this fact out. A property tax to fund county parks was rejected by about two-thirds of the voters. Thus, voters clearly told commissioners and county departments to live within their allotted budgets. Interestingly, Commissioners Brock and Riddle placed the library tax on the ballot, ignoring the votersí latest rejection of several new property taxes. Commissioner Haugen did not vote to put the library tax on the ballot, though he does unfortunately support the library property tax levy.
Police Ready to Evict Homeowners for Overdue Taxes
Letís examine what happens when a majority of voters say yes to a library or any property tax. The county assessor will add the new tax to your annual property tax statement along with all the other county and city taxes you pay to be able to stay in your home. In Oregon it takes between 3-4 years for eviction from oneís home due to an unpaid property tax. An unrecorded lien is in effect for all unpaid property taxes. The ballot measure describing a property tax never states a warning to the voter that if the property tax is not paid the homeownerís house and land will be seized and assigned to the county to be sold or kept as county property. If the sale price is above the amount owed, the county does not have to return any of the money to the former owner. If the homeowner refuses to leave by a lawful order, he will be forcibly evicted. Police power can be used by the state to compel payment or seizure of the property. As mentioned, armed police (hired county residents) may come to evict the reluctant former homeowner. If he refuses to leave and appears to pose a threat to the police, he could be shot and killed. If he survives, he could go to prison, all because he didnít pay the property tax and leave like a good sport. Pro tax supporters donít address this issue. Why?
The following undesirable conditions are ready to be set in motion when you authorize a property tax on family homes.
Yes Voters Support Compulsory Funding of Their Favorite Public Program
Is it ethical for those in favor of a library property tax to be able to force their neighbors to pay for their social wants? Is it a proper use of police power to use it to force anyone from their home for failure to pay for someone elseís social programs? Most commissioner candidates support the library tax on family homes. This apparently means that these candidates support the forced payment of property taxes to fund their social programs, by putting liens on family homes, the threat of eviction, and the use of police power. Only three candidates have made statements that they are opposed to the library tax on family homes, James Rossi running for position two, and Paul Walter, and Lance Noble running for position three. Commissioner candidates attacking family home security by supporting a tax on homes are Dwight Ellis, Jim Raffenburg, Doug Beck, Bill Turrell, Cherryl Walker, Harold Haugen, Gayle Shane, and Jim Brock. Friends Protecting Family Homes welcomes other candidates to take a bold ethical stand and say they are opposed to all new property taxes to fund county government. Besides being unethical, a property tax targets many children, seniors, the handicapped, the sick, the hungry, those on fixed an low incomes, and the unemployed.
User Fee, the Way to Go
There are other ways to fund the library, such as a user fee. A user fee pays for many of the roads you travel on. When you fill your vehicleís gasoline tank, you pay a road tax; thatís a user fee. If you donít buy gasoline, you donít pay the tax. Thatís a fair tax! Your home is not at risk to pay for the roads you travel on!
Another innovative way to fund the library would be to use a voluntary property tax coupled with a user fee. A voluntary property tax that was approved by the voters would be placed on each property ownerís tax statement. An attachment would be included with the tax statement allowing the homeowner to notify the tax collector within 30-days upon receipt of the tax bill that he did not wish to participate in the library tax. All those that paid the library tax would go to the library without paying a user fee. Those who did not pay the tax would pay a user fee. The library board could work out the amount for the user fee. This plan would allow the pro tax folks to place a tax on their own homes. The tax could be adjusted to compensate for reduced user fees. This would allow the pro tax folks to use their homes for collateral to ensure payment of the property tax they voted for. Again they need to be advised that their homes will have an unregistered lien placed against them a long with the possibility of foreclosure hanging over their homes for non-payment of taxes. This voluntary tax is ethical compared to the present proposed library tax levy. It is not a predator tax putting family homes at risk for those unable or unwilling to pay more taxes.
The Case for Ethics
Itís unethical for any man to cause a tax to be placed on another manís home to pay for his social agenda. If you were among the majority that voted No on the park tax and county manager system, then you will want to say No to a property tax to fund the library.
If you believe in ethics, honesty, and fair play, can you morally vote for a property tax to be levied on another manís home? Letís protect our family homes from additional taxes that can use fear, coercion, and eviction to collect this tax by saying No, No, No to all new property taxes that appear on the ballot.
John Taft is treasurer of Friends Protecting Family Homes, a political action committee opposed to new taxes on family homes. http://www.strobezone.homestead.com firstname.lastname@example.org