June 18, 2014 - Imagine walking down the street one day and a stranger approaches you.
He asks you to give him a dollar.
You think to yourself, "Oh, what the hell! It's only a stinkin' buck. It's not going to break me. What's the big deal?"
So, you give him a crisp George Washington and go merrily on your way.
Now imagine doing that every day for an entire year. At that point, you've given away 365 of those no-big-deal dollar bills.
Or maybe word gets out about how generous you are and now, three or four strangers start asking you for a buck every day. You could end up giving away close to $1,500 a year and it all started with one lousy dollar.
My point is everything adds up.
I want Oxford residents – especially those who own and pay taxes on property – to remember that as they head to the polls in August and November.
If voters decide to approve every single request for new or increased property taxes, our bills are going to go up by a grand total of 3.3518 mills. That includes a new 1.65-mill tax for the proposed community center***, 1 mill more for the fire department, a 0.4518-mill increase for the library and a new 0.25-mill tax for the North Oakland Transportation Authority (NOTA).
What does that mean in actual dollars?
One mill is worth $1 for every $1,000 of a property's taxable value. So, for properties with taxable values ranging from $50,000 to $100,000, a 3.3518-mill increase amounts to an additional $168 to $335 annually.
That's not chump change.
And let's not forget Oxford taxpayers are already going to see a 0.9-mill increase on their tax bills, which they have absolutely no control over.
I'm referring to the recent decision by the school board to increase the bond debt tax from 7 mills to 7.9 mills, so as to meet the mandates of state law. I'm not criticizing the school board. They had no choice.
Factor in that 0.9-mill increase and Oxford taxpayers are now facing a total potential tax hike amounting to 4.2518 mills, which translates into an additional $213 to $425 for the aforementioned taxable values.
For Oxford Village residents the fun doesn't end because we're facing a significant increase in our water and sewer rates.
For the average 4,000-gallon-per-month user, the proposed rates amount to an additional $26.57 per month or $319 annually.
Again, that's not chump change.
Mind you, I'm not criticizing the village for doing this because I understand why these utility rate hikes must occur. But village residents must take these rate increases into consideration when deciding to vote yes or no on the proposed tax increases.
My point is Oxford taxpayers must consider the big picture before they vote on these proposed tax hikes.
Government agencies tend to push their tax proposals as if they exist in a bubble, as if there are no other taxes to be paid.
But taxpayers can't afford to have that kind of tunnel vision. They must look at all the taxes as a whole and decide which to approve and which to reject.
They must look at how all these taxes will affect their personal budgets as everything from groceries to gasoline continues to increase in price.
They must look at how all these taxes are going to affect the people in our community who are still struggling. Do we really want to be the type of community that taxes people out of their homes?
They must look at how these taxes will impact local businesses and local prices.
It certainly would be nice to say 'yes' to everyone and everything all the time, but that's not at all practical or reasonable.
Much like children, government should often be told 'no' lest it become spoiled, demanding and develop an overweening sense of entitlement.
To me, it all boils down to a question of priorities – necessities versus luxuries.
And everyone's priorities are different.
The fire department's 1-mill increase and NOTA's request for a new 0.25-mill tax represent absolute necessities in my mind. I will be voting YES on both.
To me, the community center and the library's request are luxuries. Looking at the big picture, we can't afford luxuries right now, so I'll be voting NO on both.
I hope you'll join me.
If not, see you in the poorhouse.
*** Proponents of the community center say the 1.65 mills proposed to fund its construction and operation is not a tax increase because it's designed to replace the soon-to-expire 1.65 mills currently being levied to pay off the combined fire/library debt.
But it should be noted the fire/library debt will still be levied in December 2014 and December 2015, so if the community center proposal passes and the taxes for it are levied beginning in December 2014, then for these two years, it most definitely represents a tax increase.
Now, in December 2016, the fire/library debt tax will be gone, so it could be argued, as supporters contend, the 1.65-mill community center tax is simply replacing the previous debt tax.
I contend it's still a tax increase because to me, replacing my savings from an expired debt with a new debt still represents taking more money from my pocket.
Why can't the taxpayers ever be allowed to just save money without government having plans to spend it?
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.