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Lynn Spruill: Paying for the future now

 

Lynn Spruill

 

 

A down payment on our future. 

 

As required, the new proposed tax rate has been advertised by the county and the city. I feel safe in saying it will be the largest tax increase Starkville residents have endured in a single year.  

 

Let's let that sink in.  

 

Should the proposed rates go forward, from Oktibbeha County there will be an increase of 2.78 mills; from the City of Starkville there will be an increase of 3.6 mills. That's a grand total of 6.38 mills.  

 

We can breathe a small sigh of relief since this year there is not an increase from the consolidated school district, but this one won't go unnoticed even without the school piling on.  

 

What do we get for the money out of our pockets? From the county our money will go to bridges and debt service on the $7 million of the $14 million in economic development LINK bond payments.  

 

From the city we will see the annual payment for $2.4 million of the $5.4 million needed for the police station renovation bond payments and debt service on $7 million of the $14 million in economic development LINK bond payments.  

 

It is always a challenge to make the projection for translating a mil increase in taxes into a manageable calculation for the homeowner.  

 

Let's say my house with a homestead exemption has a true value of $100,000. My assessed value is $10,000 which equals 10% of the true value of my home.  

 

That means I will be paying $6.38 times 10 for that 6.38 tax rate increase. That means that my total tax bill on my $100,000 home will increase by $63.80. Not a huge amount, but for sure a good bottle of single malt scotch or a steak dinner for two without the wine or dessert.  

 

I don't mean to make light of it because when the electric bill comes due or the kids need new shoes and the paycheck is gone that additional amount means prioritizing for any homeowner.  

 

What that means for commercial property is an additional 50% of the cost of the homestead cost since it is assessed at 15% and not 10%. So, one of my rental units valued at that same $100,000 has an assessed value of $15,000. My tax rate on the commercial property will increase by $95.70.  

 

If I were to up my rent on this building to accommodate the tax increase alone, I would be raising it by about $8 per month.  

 

How much is the future worth?  

 

My support of the increases I knew would come from the economic development project didn't exactly make me happy, but I believe it is necessary. I might be proven wrong, but I am banking on Joe Max working his magic for Oktibbeha County and Starkville and the stars to align on the myriad of other things that have to happen for a project to work.  

 

We look to the future when we provide a new city hall, a new police station, sidewalks that will connect 40 years from now and trees that won't reach their potential until 20 or more years have passed. We gamble on a future for more than just ourselves. 

 

We gamble for the greater good and the promise it brings. It should be an educated gamble but like a new business, it is still a gamble and a leap of faith. You can only study and plan for so long before you pull the trigger.  

 

I give this Starkville Board of Aldermen all manner of deserved grief but one of the positive things they did was support a view for a future beyond next year. They authorized a comprehensive plan and a master plan for the parks. With a push from the business community, they took that leap of faith for the economic development project.  

 

There is more to be done. This next board needs to gear up for a future that includes implementing these plans and maybe asking even more of us for park funding or new streets.  

 

We may pay more for a leap of faith than we do for sitting still, but the future belongs to those who get off their rear ends. 

 

Lynn Spruill, a former commercial airline pilot, elected official and city administrator owns and manages Spruill Property Management in Starkville. Her email address is [email protected]

 

 

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