The Washington Post has an article discussing how localities are preparing for the real estate market downturn:
At the same time, officials increasingly are looking at what would happen if the housing market flattens so significantly that it no longer provides enough tax money to underwrite steady growth in spending. Some have instructed their staffs to craft proposed budgets that cap expanded spending. …
Despite signs that the market is softening — home sales nationwide slowed more than expected in October, and inventory is at its highest level in 20 years — assessments typically lag behind the business climate. So a downward trend won’t be reflected in the new round of valuations.
Yet this article in the DP notes how a few Delegates are making promises:
House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, and Dels. L. Preston Bryant, R-Lynchburg, and Leo C. Wardrup, R-Virginia Beach, told a gathering of Virginia reporters and editors that the House of Delegates will not pass a measure increasing the state gas tax in 2006.
“We have to look at other sources of revenue,” Howell said during the Associated Press Day at the Capital annual forum on pending state issues. “I think that’s what the whole discussion is going to be about.”
Howell suggested that increased fines for bad drivers could bring in a sustained source of transportation revenue of $400 million or more for each two-year budget cycle and that international investors could provide hundreds of millions of dollars more for purchasing the right to collect tolls on certain highways.
$400 million in increased enforcement? Let the police police, don’t make them become de facto tax collectors (probably with quotas too).
This is an interesting idea from the WP article –
In Fairfax … For next year’s proposed spending plan limits, he has instructed department heads to “essentially give us the same budget you gave us last year,” meaning no growth, except for pay raises and increases to cover such items as rising health care costs for employees and retirees.
Why haven’t they been doing this all along?
I am not saying that we need a gas tax, but we need to consider all options before making premature promises.
2006 is a mid term election year isn’t it? Could it not be that these fellows are up for re-election?
Not knowing what other types of taxes we have currently, I’m going to recommend taxes focused on the tourist industry, much like vegas does with the Airport landing taxes, Hotel taxes.. things like that which don’t directly tax the existing residents.
I’d also consider “Special Project Bonds” on new developments (though I’m not sure that’s the right word for it). Basically the concept involves when a developer wants to build a new development he has to agree to these Bonds that go with the cost of the land and are passed onto the home purchaser to finance whatever municipal project the city needs. In one event the project was funds needed to complete a beltway around the city of L.V. I’m sure there’s more to it than that, but that’s just the broad brush. And then considering we’re talking about a decline in real estate, this wouldn’t be a long term solution either.
Sure moving violations and parking tickets are an added source of revenue, however that revenue generally never gets past the police departments and court systems. So it’s not something they should really count on. Not to forget that when one makes it a needed source of revenue inevitably it’s not just bad drivers getting sucked in it’s good drivers too. Every tiny infraction gets enforced when it’s a revenue issue with no wiggle room. And I think they already do have quotas, while they may deny this, a friend on the inside said there’s increased pressure at the end of each month to write tickets. Of course that’s not “technically” a quota.
I think of all the areas of Virginia Fairfax possibly stands up as an example of “financially” what to do right with regards to local government.
And that’s my 2 cents.