Tax plan isn’t best for Mower County

Published 9:01 am Sunday, June 19, 2016

I strongly oppose the proposed five year “tax abatement plan.” This plan would eliminate property taxes on new housing for five years. Austin and the surrounding communities currently have many homes that are in need of repairs and updating. For this reason the perceived housing shortage should be looked at as an opportunity to reverse the decay that has been occurring in some of our older neighborhoods. A demand for nicer more updated properties will encourage people to invest in the homes that we have because they will be able to gain equity doing it. To forgive taxes on new homes, multifamily homes or apartments would discourage people from buying or renting older homes in older parts of town. The abatement would be a betrayal to those who have already made the personal investment of fixing up their homes, rental properties and investment properties. Not only would abatement plan put current homeowners and landlords at disadvantage against new construction, but at the same time it asks them to subsidize the tax burden of their competition.

Perhaps, most importantly this abatement is the equivalent of a regressive tax. People who are in a financial position to afford building a new home, can afford to pay their own property taxes. Likewise, a developer who wants to build an apartment complex for their own profit doesn’t need any portion of that profit to be subsidized by the residents of our county. This county has many low income families and I would consider it obscene to ask them to chip in and subsidize the granite counter tops of someone else’s new home, or the profit margins of a developer.

So long as proposals of this nature are on the table builders and developers are going to be more likely to sit on the sideline. Why would they invest in Mower County now when in the future their investment may be placed at a disadvantage to new tax abated properties? The county board needs to solidly oppose the abatement plan and give the parties that are willing to invest in our community confidence to do so without the fear of having their investments undermined by proposals like this.

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James Williams,


James Williams filed to seek the District 1 seat on the Mower County Board of Commissioners.