On Friday, Americans for Tax Reform announced that they had reviewed the 2008 effort to create a new 2.2% tax for parks in Boone County. In a statement, they found the effort to be revenue-neutral and not a tax increase. ATR's assessment is based on the fact that the 2.2% increase was offset by corresponding tax cuts by other taxing authorities:
The Health Department rolled back their property tax rate from 2.0 to 1.9 cents, the Boone County Public Library Board of Trustees rolled back their tax rate from 6.3 to 5.0 cents, and the Boone County Cooperative Extension District Board lowered their rate from 1.9 to 1.6 cents. The net reduction of these combined taxing districts equaled the 2.2 cent increase put on the ballot in 2008.
So the effort, which failed 67%-33% at the ballot box, was designed to be revenue-neutral, but the creation of a new tax should not be trusted.
The effort involved four different taxing authorities. The county government would levy the new parks tax in addition to the County's general authority to tax property, while each of the other taxing entities - the County Board of Health, the County Public Library Board, and the Boone County Cooperative Extension Board - all have independent authority to levy, reduce and raise taxes.
Once the new parks tax was created, it would create a new 2.2% property tax on the citizens of Boone County in perpetuity. However, Boone County Taxpayers have no guarantee that the reductions provided by the other boards would remain. The initiative would have created a brand new way for the county government to tax citizens' property, while the Health Board, Library Board, Cooperative Extension and the county government itself are free to annually raise rates. While the initiative may have been revenue neutral on the ballot, it would simply create a new tax floor for the future that would be even more difficult for citizens to challenge.
New taxes are just another open door for the government to commandeer citizens' wealth to support the government's spending proclivity. The Kentucky Club for Growth will continue to support leaders who stand against tax increases and new taxes.