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At a time when taxpayers are likely to be cutting back during an economic downturn, Midland County commissioners want to raise property tax rates by 11%; or 9% higher than the effective tax rate.

On August 10th, Midland County Commissioners proposed increasing the tax rate to 14.08 cents per $100 valuation, up from 12.65 cents per $100 in FY 2015. According to Midland County’s 2016 Budget Book, the newly proposed tax rate would bring in around $28,450,000 to county coffers. That’s an additional $1,856,550 in revenue compared to the previous year.

By proposing a rate above the effective tax rate (12.80 cents per $100), county commissioners will not only bring in additional revenue by simply taxing residents more, but their overall tax base will be larger due to new taxable properties in the county.  (The effective tax rate is the rate that would allow the county to generate the same amount of revenue as the previous year.)

Meanwhile, county officials regularly tout the fact that the recently proposed tax rate is less than the 2013 tax rate of 15.48 cents per $100 valuation. However, in FY 2013, property taxes levied by the county totaled $25,174,784 – over $3 million less than FY 2016’s estimated revenue. In other words, should the increase pass, the county will be collecting much more property tax revenue from taxpayers in 2016 than they did from the even higher rate back in 2013.

As a governing body that is elected to serve and represent the people, one would hope that Midland commissioners would display greater fiscal restraint of themselves instead of placing a heavier tax burden on families and businesses. Tough economic times call for hard work and tough decisions. Government shouldn’t be the exception. Instead of seeking to recoup lost revenues, commissioners should treat the county’s coffers like their own pocketbooks – determining what items are absolute necessities and prioritizing them based on resources available.

County Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the proposed rate at 9am on Monday, August 31st. A final vote will be held on Thursday, September 3rd.

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