BDC | Editorial | Montanans Owed Explanation

BDC | Editorial | Montanans Owed Explanation
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Read the editorial at the Bozeman Daily Chronicle by the Editorial Board
“…House Appropriations Chair Llew Jones, R-Conrad, told the Montana Free Press in July that the two $675 property tax rebates for homeowners and an adjustment to school funding basically evens out the additional $394 million that residential taxpayers are estimated to shell out over the next two years. But that logic seems too clever by half. If you’re giving money back, why raise taxes?
Taxpayers deserve an explanation. Already there’s a sense that people are pushing back and resisting any further additions to their tax bills. Look at what happened with the Central Valley Fire District’s recent ballot measure.
The district asked voters for more money to pay firefighters and firefighter paramedics. The district chief said they had been savings and reserve funding to pay staffers, which is obviously unsustainable. But still the local cost of living made retaining people a serious challenge.
Voters rejected the measure by a nearly two-to-one margin.
Shifting the tax burden to residential property owners exacerbates the cost of living problem. And it makes voters less inclined to open their wallets, even for emergency services. So, again, why did the Legislature do this?
Taxpayers, on certain basic level, want to know what they’re getting from the system they’re paying into. The governor and lawmakers need to take a long enough break from pointing fingers at one another — and at the local governments whose power they’ve systematically stripped away — to address that reasonable concern.
Montanans deserve an answer.”

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