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TAXES IN “THE PUBLIC INTEREST?”

Property tax base

At the national level, “in the public interest means” in the interest of commerce. A community like Shorewood, at the local level is interested in maintaining the sales value of their homes first of all and controlling the tax burden that that ownership brings.

As public schools have been linked to both the market desirability of homeownership and to the tax burden of that ownership, school costs play a role in the public interest that Shorewood has in maintaining a low tax rate.

While some would eliminate the tax costs of schools by privatizing them, at the same time they want to maintain good schools because its a good deal for families with children, who make up a good portion of Shorewood's population.

After their children complete the school years, the parents are free to sell their homes at pretty good prices and move to places where their school tax burden might be less or the climate might be somewhat warmer, finding their public interest somewhere else.

Most balanced communities that contain both industry and commerce are able to lessen the tax burden on homes by taxing industry and commercial properties which do not derive any direct school benefits from the school taxes that they pay. Therefore, they, to some degree subsidize the school system as well.

An additional factor today is that the state also subsidizes public schools based on number of individuals enrolled. Therefore, in the public interest, we are seeking younger families with children, to increase these enrollments and the subsidies that they bring.

Our community redevelopment program is really a property tax base improvement program, and was only named “community” because it originally was used to finance the redevelopment of declining city neighborhood communities.

I point this our basically because our redevelopment program is primarily driven as a “tax base improvement program.” This will help us to understand its policies and goals. Also we should understand that if we focus too much on property taxes, we might lose sight of community interests and could even move in the direction of privatizing our school system.

Luckily this is an unlikely direction because the school system contributes to our home property values and thus to our tax base and is too attractive a feature to forgo. On the other hand, “affordable housing” seems to operate against improving the tax base.

There is much more to the economics of our community and to its tax base, but in the “public interest” its important for now, that citizens take these elements into consideration, especially as we move toward casting our ballots for members of our Village Board in early in 2008.

Whatever our local government does beyond its concern for tax base, it  is secondary to that primary interest, in other words the tax base is our main “public interest.”  For that reason, I'll be focusing on the secondary interests of our community, secondary, but as important. 

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