Columnist Dan Casey had a column today on 21st Senate District candidate Tripp Godsey’s “I believe” statement on property taxes.
Here’s the statement from Godsey’s site:
That Property taxes are fundamentally wrong and cannot be reconciled with the right to own and control our own property. The existence of property taxes, no matter how altruistic the motives for spending the tax money are, means you never actually OWN the property being taxed. You buy the property and then must pay government “rent” for the privilege of “owning” it until you sell it or government takes it from you for not paying your “rent” to them. The right to ownership of property is fundamental to freedom and must be restored if we are to be a society of free individuals.”
Although Godsey apparently did not talk to Casey for this column, I asked him about it during a phone interview last week that resulted in Thursday’s story on his stance regarding school choice.
I didn’t have room in that story to get into the property tax issue, but had planned to perhaps use portions of that interview for a future story.
However, since the issue came up in Casey’s column today, I thought I should go ahead and put this material out now.
Godsey reiterated that statement on his site, about how his big concern with property taxes — and real estate taxes in particular — is that a homeowner can never truly own their property if it can be taken away for failure to pay taxes.
“I look at the elderly,” Godsey said. “Their property is paid off, but they retire and they’re on a fixed income, and now they have to pay taxes and could lose their homes.”
Since so much of local government revenue comes from real estate taxes, however, I asked how they could make up that loss if those taxes are eliminated.
“There’s waste and fraud out there that can be eliminated,” Godsey said. “Also services that can be privatized.”
He said that fire departments could be privatized and cited examples in Knoxville, Tenn., and Elk Grove, Ill.
“They privatized their fire departments and there’s a lot of money being saved,” Godsey said. “The same thing goes for trash pick up or leaf removal. There are a lot of services that can be run more efficiently by a private company.”
He also said, in a roundabout way, that he favored user fees over general taxes.
“It was brought up to me the other day by a buddy of mine that’s single and said he’s paying all these taxes, and he doesn’t have any children but he’s paying taxes that go into the school systems,” Godsey said. “If you don’t need leaf removal, then you shouldn’t be needing to pay for leaf removal.
“I think private enterprises are more efficient because it cuts out a lot of the bureaucracy the government brings into it. It’s a lot of bureaucracy.”
So there you have it. Maybe those aren’t the same responses that Godsey would have given Casey, but that’s what he told me when I asked him about that statement on his website.
– Mason Adams, staff writer