“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into”

Jonathan Swift
"The Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital." - Bill Maher
"The city is crowded my friends are away and I'm on my own
It's too hot to handle so I gotta get up and go

It's a cruel ... cruel summer"

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tea Party Protest Should Focus on Local Govts

The Amarillo Tea Party will host a rally July 4 to protest high taxes. The last Tea Parties turned into anti-Obama-anti-federal government rallies as much as a complaint against taxes.

And while the Tea Party’s manifesto calls for limited government, limited spending and lower taxes at all levels of government, taking to the streets, even peacefully, isn’t the way to deal with lowering local taxes. The way to lower the burden of government in Potter and Randall counties is to look at two areas.

First, citizens must pay more attention to the costs of local government, especially salaries. The Amarillo Independent did a story some months ago about city salaries and the amounts the staffers are paid is staggering. Of course, questioning those salaries leads to a huge effort in bureaucratic justification, with claims that to get “good” people to work here means paying higher salaries. Then, they’ll trot out all kinds of little studies of comparable salaries from other jurisdictions — studies that are paid for by the city’s consultant and not reviewed independently by an objective observer. C’mon, we know how this game is played.

But the second, and more insidious, form of taxation and tax increases has to do with the Potter-Randall Appraisal District. With caps on tax rates, the only way PRAD can generate the income for the governments it serves is to inflate the values of properties. PRAD doesn’t question how much those governmental entities need. One of the dirty secrets is that the jurisdictions tell PRAD how much they need, PRAD adds up the bill and then sticks it to property owners.

And it does so with outrageous impunity. In a down market, these arrogant bureaucrats inflate the appraisal of homes by knowingly faulty statistical methods. Even worse, the protest board backs the bureaucrats. Homeowners don’t have a chance because these senile old beasts are buddy-buddy with the staffers and have their minds made up before the hearing even begins.

If the Amarillo Tea Party people want to mount a protest, they may have more of an impact if they packet and protest at local government offices and at PRAD at 5701 Hollywood Road.