Next Tuesday voters in several local political subdivisions are being asked to approve increases in the operating levies of those entities.

Next Tuesday voters in several local political subdivisions are being asked to approve increases in the operating levies of those entities.  Principals and apologists from and for those entities have attested to what they deem to be the increased needs for the various line items of their respective budgets; thus their requests for increases in their operating levies.  Please allow me to expound for a moment on the concept of tax levies.  A property tax levy is a percentage of the assessed valuation of the real property lying within the physical boundaries of the political subdivision.  Thus, as the value of that property increases so does the revenue that accrues to the political subdivision (created by voters) to meet the lawfully established purposes of the subdivision.  If the political subdivision is a school district that purpose is (ostensibly) the education of the children living within the geographic area of the district.  If a fire district the purpose is (ostensibly) fire fighting and fire prevention.  All such taxing entities are created for a defined purpose and provided funding that, granted, will vary according to the assessed valuation changes of property subject to the tax.  Therefore, as increased economic activity occurs within the district the defined duties of that district will increase.  The beauty of such a system of funding is that with the corresponding increase in the assessed valuation the revenue to the district will increase as well.  Conversely, if economic activity and total assessed valuation falls the revenue to the taxing districts will fall.  And thus it should be.  Increasing the tax levy for such districts under such conditions, while not criminal, certainly exhibits a profound tone deafness on the part of those in charge who are, by law, to be exercising a fiduciary responsibility on behalf of the citizens and taxpayers with their wishes and best interests in mind.

In each of our respective business and personal lives we must make decisions about how to spend the funds available to us.  If we choose to spend more on a phone and data plan, flat screen, or vehicle we will, of necessity, need to spend less elsewhere.  The taxes we pay are no less a part of the equation.  Each of these taxing entities has been lawfully created to meet specific needs in our communities and should be expected to do so in a responsible manner.  These needs are no doubt real and most involved work admirably to carry out the tasks prescribed – as do all the rest of us who fund their activities.  Parenthetically, for those who may not know, when I first moved to this great Lake Area in the 1970s I worked as a volunteer firefighter and was employed in emergency medical services for several years. I admire those who still do.  It is hard but rewarding work.  However, if we allow our pathos to override our ethos and pathos we will become broke-os.

As you go to the polls on 3 April, please keep these thoughts in mind and remember, in the spirit of Daniel Webster as expressed in the very early years of this nation’s existence:  The power to tax is the power to destroy.  Thank you.


Don Neuharth

Camdenton, MO