"Taxation: how the sheep are shorn." --Edward Abbey
I love my house.
No, it isn't a luxury, dream home but it is ours.
I also love my neighborhood. It is safe, friendly and one of the most desired in our small, Texas town.
My community has wonderful schools. However, my husband and I have made the decision to privately educate our children. So, yeah, even though we live right around the corner from one of the best primary schools in our county, we shuttle and pay for our children to attend a private, Christian academy. These are our choices and we don’t expect a discount or a deal when it comes to our taxation.
We have also had occasion to need and enjoy the convenience of our amazing county hospital. From ruptured appendixes to heads split open needing staples to middle of the night asthma attacks requiring steroids, we have been very thankful for our amazing medical facilities. And we pay our medical and hospitalization bills, whether on a payment plan or in full.
We love our community and want to be contributing, up-standing members of the society we chose to return to. Therefore, we fully accept the financial burdens and responsibilities of home ownership and city living. So, I am sincere when I say that I have no issue whatsoever paying the property taxes associated with owning my fantastic little abode.
A couple of years ago, it was determined that our county needed a new jail. We out grew our current jail approximately thirty minutes after its completion. So, after much discussion and politicking, a bond was placed on the ballot, voted upon and ultimately, passed. A $16 million bond.
The measure would be financed and paid for by an increase in the property taxes of Hopkins County residents. Sure, that sounded good at the time. Reasonable. After all, property owners and businesses pay for everything anyway.
Fast forward a few months and as the ground was breaking for the new jail, an innovative, exciting idea developed in the minds and offices of some conservative, forward-thinking county officials.
What if, instead of further burdening property owners, the county proposed and passed a measure to increase the sales tax in our great county by one-half a cent? One-half a cent. Yep, that's the number. That's the amount. And the increase would only be in effect for the duration of time it takes to pay for the jail. Then, the slightly increased sales tax would return to its pre-jail rate.
This isn't funny math, y'all. This isn't rocket science.
This is basic economics. And more importantly, it is fair.
Please, consider for a moment: what if the financial burden of paying for the new, much needed jail could be more evenly distributed throughout the county?
After all, most property owners that I know won't ever have the misfortune of spending any extended time in the new jail. Now don't get me wrong, I get the whole "it's our responsibility to protect our community" spill. And I am completely willing to fork over my fair share of the expense. But why should property owners be continuously punished through taxation for simply owning a home?
You see, a small increase in the sales tax would affect ALL residents. Law-abiding citizens, convicted criminals, property owners, apartment renters, visitors, business owners and crack heads. All of us go to Walmart and buy toilet paper and soap. Therefore, it makes perfect, logical sense to me that the dope-smoking, leach of society who will never own a home, could and should pay a slightly higher tax on their booze to help offset the tremendous cost of the county-provided-dwelling they will one day have the opportunity of enjoying.
And before some of you squeal and squeak about the negative effects this slight increase could potentially have on economic growth, just stop. I've got your number. This isn't going to reduce the economic growth of our county. That is a lie. This small, temporary increase in sales tax won't discourage corporations from coming into our area. Texas is appealing because we have no state income tax and our citizens enjoy a good standard of living. Hopkins County, in particular, is appealing to individuals and businesses because of our low unemployment rate, our good schools, small town atmosphere and convenient proximity to the DFW area.
That is what will keep our economy strong and our growth continued.
So, here's the DL: The Hopkins County Commissioner's Court and the Hopkins County Judge represent roughly 35,000 residents of Hopkins County. The City Manager and City Council of Sulphur Springs comprised of seven elected members are tasked with representing approximately 15,000 of those same residents. And while I appreciate all of these individuals and their service to our community, I don’t believe they should have the final word. Perhaps, it is because I am radically conservative and committed to good stewardship and personal accountability; but I believe that the capable, competent voters of Hopkins County should be given the opportunity to vote on the forms of taxation that will affect and influence our lives and communities. Let us decide whether we want our property taxes to be increased or if we want to share the burden in a broader, more equitable way.
Call me naïve, call me optimistic, call me whatever you would like, but I am confident that when Bill #1158 is fully explained, it will enjoy tremendous support both within the city limits and in the outlining communities. Because rest assured, those of us who understand the measure and fully support this equitable tax solution for our jail needs, will have and take full advantage of the opportunity to get out and discuss this innovative idea with our friends, family and neighbors.
Gosh, luckily, because of the fantabulous neighborhood I have the privilege of living in and the glorious mechanism of social media, I will have ample opportunity to get the word out.
Oh, the joys of small town politics.