PETE ROBINSON SAYS IT HAS.
Attorney, lobbyist, and former Columbus state legislator Pete Robinson ran the end-the-property-tax- freeze flag up the political flagpole again. Now, we’ll get to see how many Columbus citizens salute it this time. Twice before freeze-enders got shot down in referendums, and the freeze was upheld in a state supreme court ruling.
Times are different now, Robinson told Columbus Rotarians today. A lot of people who work and use Columbus public services don’t own property in Columbus any more. Columbus basically depends on property taxes to pay for government services, and since counties that don’t have tax freezes, such as Harris in Georgia, and Russell is Alabama, are more attractive to people who buy new homes, the tax digest in Columbus simply isn’t going to be enough to finance the Columbus-Muscogee County government.
In order to tax those people who live in other counties, but work in Columbus and use Columbus infrastructure, there has to be a change. One is is to depend more on sales taxes – he called it “consumption” taxes – and another is to institute a Columbus income tax. And ending the freeze will also encoruage more people to buy homes in Columbus.
Sales taxes, the most regressive because lower-income people pay a higher percentage of their income than upper-income people, are already high enough in my book. I’d lean more toward an income tax. Also, I have never thought the property tax freeze was a good idea. When a new homeowner moves in and has to pay $2,000 in property taxes and his or her neighbor, who has been living for 20 years in the house next door that is of the same value, pays $100, you know something is wrong.
I asked Robinson if he really thought there was a chance in hell the tax freeze would end. “It has to!” he said emphatically.
I’m sure our new mayor Teresa Tomlinson will be very interested in seeing how Columbus citizens react to Robinson’s position.