Saturday, June 17, 2006

Lincoln Property Taxes

The news that the total value of Lincoln properties went up 17% must have warmed the heart of our beloved mayor, Coleen Seng. In principle a rise in property values doesn't automatically mean increased property taxes, as the tax rate could be dropped by a comparable amount. It seems there's no chance of that, if the mayor gets her way, according to the Lincoln JournalStar:
Mayor Coleen Seng is expected to take advantage of the increased property taxes resulting from the county assessor's recent revaluation when she releases her budget proposal. Even if she leaves the property tax rate relatively unchanged, the city portion of Lincoln property tax bills would go up for most people because the recent revaluation increased property values countywide by an average of 17.5 percent.

On June 26, the mayor unveils her budget to the City Council, which has until August to make changes to her spending plan. For the third straight year, Seng is grappling with a big projected budget deficit that hamstrings her ability to propose new programs or spending. In January, the city projected a $6.8 million budget gap and Seng told the council she hoped to avoid raising property taxes. By April, that gap had widened to $8 million to $10 million.
Apparently, the Journal Star editors are all on vacation, because the author, Deena Winter, continues with this bizarre, although true, statement:
But her proposed budget will be balanced -- this isn't the federal government, which uses deficit-spending up the wazoo.
Strange language for a "family newspaper."

We doubt the citizens of Lincoln are feeling substantially wealthier just because our new valuation notices say our houses are worth more. The mayor is misjudging the electorate, if she thinks this is an opportunity for a big tax increase. The City Council should reduce the mill rate to the revenue neutral level and keep the mayor "hamstrung on new programs and spending."

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