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Voters are resisting local efforts to raise property taxes as municipal governments struggle to close gaping budget gaps amid declining home values and state cutbacks, Businessweek reports.Now taxpayers are taking out their frustration at the ballot box. In Miami, for example, residents, angry over a 14% property tax hike, voted in overwhelming numbers to remove Mayor Carlos Alvarez from office earlier this month.
Upset voters in various parts of country have resisted the recent tax hikes—though not always with the same result as in Miami. In Chattanooga, Mayor Ron Littlefield’s push for a 19 per cent property tax increase sparked a recall effort by the Chattanooga Tea Party and other groups, which failed in 2010. Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle has raised property taxes a total of 15 per cent, also leading to a recall election this past January that failed to remove him from office.
In Jersey City, the municipal tax rate has increased 84 per cent since 2005, but efforts to recall Mayor Jerramiah Healy fell through in February.
Nationally, state and local property tax revenue was $474.2 billion between Sept. 2009 and Sept. 2010, up 38.8 per cent from the same period in FY 2005, according to the Tax Foundation, a Washington-based group that advocates for lower taxes.
School districts – the recipients of about half of property tax revenues – are largely behind the push for property tax increases, arguing that avoiding tax increases will result in more teacher layoffs.
Given that the U.S. housing market isn’t likely to rebound any time soon – and voters are only going to grow more resistant to local tax hikes – schools may just have to start learning how to make do with less.
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