The usual suspects are effusive in their praise for what was House Joint Resolution 1002, which puts a measure on the ballot to change the existing property-tax cap from five percent to three percent. An example thereof:
State Sen. Jim Reynolds was effusive this morning (Wednesday, April 20) after passage of House Joint Resolution 1002. By a vote of 77-16, with five members excused and three taking constitutional privilege, the measure sailed through the House of Representatives. The final overwhelming bipartisan majority approved sending the constitutional measure to a statewide vote of the people.
If passed by voters, the proposal will limit property tax increases to 3 percent of fair cash value.
Well, actually, no, it won’t. Like the previous 5-percent cap, this measure imposes a limitation on the increase in taxable assessed value. It has absolutely nothing to say about the tax rates themselves, which will continue to be set exactly as before. If you happen to live in, say, the Crutcho school district in Oklahoma County, the tax rate went up 20.4 percent this past year, mostly due to a $1 million bond issue passed last year by eleven of fourteen actual voters. The tax rate in my own area, by comparison, went up just under 0.8 percent.
I’m guessing someone lent Jim Reynolds a hat to talk through for this:
“At the 5% cap, property taxes essentially double every 14 years. With this new 3% cap, it will take at least 24 years for taxes to double.”
At least he knows the Rule of 72, which puts him a notch above some of the innumerable innumerates who seem to get themselves elected these days. The facts of the matter, though, from someone who’s done the homework:
Since I’ve been here, the market value of the house has risen by a third; the tax rate has bobbed up and down, and while 114.33 is the highest it’s been, the lowest (for 2008) was 106.08, so we’re talking a fairly-narrow range here. The [Oklahoma County] Assessor’s online records go back to 1983, at which time the tax rate was 83.63; the tax rate has therefore risen 37 percent in 37 years. Market values, of course, have risen faster, especially considering that the local real-estate market in the early 1980s was in a deep, dark hole.
Leonard Sullivan, who is the Assessor for Oklahoma County, understands the rule. I understand the rule. I’d like to think there’s at least one more person in this state who understands the rule. I suppose I’ll find out when this shows up as a State Question in 2012.