Letter to the Editor: Putting people first

Dear Editor,

Residential Property taxes are up 87% and out of control. No one, young or old, can afford a home because of the government rent. 540,000 people are being asked to pay more residential property tax while state and counties sit on $2 billion in reserves. Sheriff.net lists 3,400 tax liens on homes in Wyoming. The Legislature must come up with a permanent fix to our broken tax code. 

The Constitution was written to restrict government, not People. Legislators forget they are elected to restrict government, not people. Everything in Wyoming and all revenues belong to the people, not the government. It is inexcusable the Legislature would put nearly $2 Billion in rainy day reserves, propose a $10 billion budget, then demand over-taxed citizens pay another $140 million in residential taxes. They tell us schools will suffer and they will cut services. Really?

Enough. Three people formed BCR Voter Initiatives and modified a bill the Legislature drafted to create a Citizens’ Initiative. Our bill exempts 50% of the Assessed value of your home from being taxed. Signing the petition in your county puts the bill on the ballot in November for your deliberation. Vote it in and you get a firewall, a safety net and backup, in case this legislature fails again. The Department of Revenue Fiscal Impact Statement for this bill is $140,000,000. It was our intent to move taxes back to 2018 to give breathing room to tax payers while the Legislature took up tax reform. Taxes are so high we weren’t able to move the gauge back 6 months. Our bill is a Band-Aid on a symptom, not the cure. Our regret is not cutting 100%. The controversy is in the statute on Fair Market Value.

Title 39 Tax Code: 

The good statute is WS 39-11-101:  Definition. (a)  As used in this act unless otherwise specifically provided:  (vi) “Fair market value” means the amount in cash, or terms reasonably equivalent to cash, a well-informed buyer is justified in paying for a property and a well-informed seller is justified in accepting, assuming neither party to the transaction is acting under undue compulsion, and assuming the property has been offered in the open market for a reasonable time… Your home value for tax purposes doesn’t go up unless you sell. 

The bad statute is W.S. 39-13-103(b)(ii): All taxable property shall be annually valued at its fair market value.  Except as otherwise provided by law for specific property, the department shall prescribe by rule and regulation the appraisal methods and systems for determining fair market value using generally accepted appraisal standards; shall add to or deduct from the aggregate valuation of the  property, or any class or classes of property, in any county such percent as will bring the same to its fair market value.   

The cure is to repeal WS 39-13-103(b)(ii) . Elections matter. 

The immediate solution for the Legislature to find $140 million to offset property tax reduction includes:

- Quit putting money in a rainy-day fund. It is bursting at the seam.

- Change the word “school” to the word “education” in the Constitution which cuts $2 Billion school budget by reducing spending on administration, waste, and construction.

- Open the ports. 

- Stop growing government employment and government buildings. They are a forever tax burden for retirement, benefits, maintenance, utility bills, and operating cost. Of every 100 employees in Wyoming, 47 are government and 52 are private. As taxpayers, we are supporting both the building and the government employee for life.

We are a blue-collar technical state. Our sustainable industries keep the lights on in America, fuel ocean-going ships, power thousands of jet planes, fuel the trucks, the trains, millions of cars, and heat the homes. Our petroleum products make clothes, furniture, fertilizer, plastics, cars, and pharmaceuticals.  Our agriculture and ranch products feed the nation.

Don’t fall in love with politicians, because they change and will always let you down. Fall in love with issues and ideas. Labels, names, and groups got us into this mess. Wyoming is Wyoming because of its People, not because of government. Our western heritage and culture are inside us and that is why people come here. Sign the petition, let’s start a real conversation. 

If you would like to sign the initiative, please contact local circulators:

Cindy Smart @ 307-389-4805

Laura Pavey @ 307-871-7310

Marlene Brady @ 307-871-4583

Richard Weber

Sheridan

 

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