To the Editor:
I am asking them, “Stop. Just stop!”
Sadly, I’ve observed a trend at the end of my tax bill since I moved into DeKalb in 1993. The little groups that govern us, can’t seem to keep our taxes moderate. In fact, since 2009, the average mill rate for taxes went from 8.59 percent to 11.1 percent, about a 29 percent increase in taxes per $100.
Why a 29 percent increase, while property values have fallen 40 percent? School, park, city and county officials want more of our money regardless of the values of our homes.
District 428 justified the $130 million cost of a new high school with phantom population growth. Between the city and the school district, they enact a $24,000 impact fee. It killed the jobs of plumbers, carpenters and construction workers, and ran off prospective buyers. When the growth didn’t happen, they had to mothball buildings. Finally, when they receive an extra $36 million to lower the new high school’s impact, the money sits unused.
The city and park district don’t get high marks, either. They double-dipped. Years ago when the City Council bought vacant land on the west side for a new jail, they enacted a hotel and restaurant food tax to pay for it. This spring, we again are subject to more “new” taxes to pay for jail construction. What happened to the other extra tax the city has been collecting for years? It was spent in new areas, like an unneeded inspection program. The city hired three more employees, added new pensions and bought new cars.
The DeKalb Park District installed in six or seven little neighborhood parks – all rarely used – shiny playground equipment at $25,000 to $30,000 a park. Nice, but unneeded. We are used to that. On the east side, we have a graffiti-decorated skate park that sits empty regularly. Hear the chatter, “let’s build a new dog park, a new pool, and add more trails.”
DeKalb County doubled the size of the courthouse for “pennies”; big pennies on our tax bill. Even the library, after agreeing to an addition to be built for $20 million, increases it to $25 million. Ka-ching.
Each group cites reasons that budgets never go down. Please get the message: “Stop!” Leave our wallets alone. A 29 percent increase since 2009 is too much.
Greg “Pop” Davis