Mayor Park Cities, in his latest no new taxes offensive, told the Observer’s Robert Wilonsky that he is opposed to a property tax increase because “… there are a lot of people who don’t go to these town halls. They’re off working. They’re people who’ve had a tough time, who are spending all their times at their businesses, and the last thing they need is another bill from the government.”
He also reiterated his position that Dallas’ taxes are already high enough, and that raising taxes will scare off new residents and new businesses.
This is more or less what Leppert said at the Lakewood budget town hall a couple of weeks ago, so I feel compelled to remind him — and everyone else in town, since the media has done such a lousy job of calling him on this stuff — what I wrote then. More, after the jump:
Leppert’s defense of working people is commendable, but “working people” aren’t Dallas’ biggest taxpayers. About half of the city’s revenue comes from the property tax, but only 42 percent of Dallas residents own homes. The numbers are low across the racial spectrum — only half of Anglo residents own homes, and only one-third of African American and Hispanic residents own homes. In this, our home ownership rates are 25 points lower than the U.S. figure and about 23 points lower than Texas.
Which means that most of any property tax increase is going to be paid by landlords. This is one reason why so many council members from south of the Trinity are suddenly so gung ho about raising taxes. They have recognized that their constituents are in a lose-lose situation. They’re going to lose services so their landlords won’t have to pay more in property taxes.
At the very least, Leppert is being disingenuous. Dishonest also comes to mind. I’m assuming he knows these home ownership numbers (or at least he should). So saying that he is protecting people like my neighbor, Dave the plumber, is a reach. Most of Dallas’ property owners are not Dave the plumber.
Finally, I wish he would stop with the higher taxes scaring away business stump speech. As long as Texas doesn’t have a state income tax, we have a leg up on the other 40 or so states that do. And the last time I checked, one of the most heavily taxed cities in the world does fairly well attracting residents and business. Of course, New York City also has parks and libraries, which we seem to be ready to do without.