Is a tax rate goal intellectually dishonest?
I recently heard the city manager of one of our large cities say that starting with a particular tax rate goal is “intellectually dishonest”. His approach is to determine what the government “needs”, then set the tax rate to raise that amount of tax revenue. And the power of government assures that you will pay.
Whether or not you believe that it is intellectually dishonest to focus on the tax rate depends on your view of government.
One take is what I call the John D. Rockefeller view of government. When asked how much money was enough, Rockefeller, the richest American of his era, responded, “Just a little more.”
I hold a different view of government.
This year the Commissioners Court will pass the twelfth and final budget of my three terms in office. I believe that we will once again be able to adopt the effective tax rate, which means that you will pay the same number of dollars to the county as last year, regardless of any increase in the value of your property.
Without a doubt, we could build a gold-plated county government. Collin County is one of the economic shining lights in Texas. But I make no apology for starting our budget process with a goal of adopting the effective tax rate during these fast growth years when our economy is humming, jobs are being created, and property values are rapidly increasing. New construction alone will generate more than $10 Million in new county taxes.
Rather than gold-plating county government, I prefer to leave as many dollars in your pocket as possible, consistent with our duties to you under state law.
I understand that every elected official wants to do the best job for you that they possibly can. That is right and natural. The county has thirty-eight elected officials, but only the five members of the Commissioners Court have the responsibility to balance your tax burden with the public services provided to you. We take that responsibility seriously.