Saturday, March 18, 2006

Deconstructing a "Pensioner of a Fixed Income"

Yesterday, the Watauga Democrat published a protest letter about this year's local tax reevaluation. Didn't we all say "ouch" when that document arrived! Our own home went up in assessed value by 67 percent. Yikes.

So I can feel some sympathy for Thomas S. Roy, who says his Watauga County home valuation increased by over 70 percent.

Our County Commission has pledged to lower the tax rate to keep this revaluation "tax neutral," if that's the right term for lowering the tax rate on everyone's more valuable property to keep the tax revenues essentially the same. Watauga County already has the lowest tax rate in the state -- THE LOWEST IN THE STATE, out of 100 counties.

Mr. Roy seems to know nothing about any of that. Rather, he takes the opportunity for a mean little partisan attack: "...this reassessment ... is politically motivated by Commissioner Jim Deal and the newly elected tax-and-spend Democrats."

Ah! It's all the Democrats' fault! Well now! That makes everything so much simpler, eh, Mr. Roy?

Then Mr. Roy decides to wax autobiographical: "I have talked with several other neighbors, all local longtime residents, and a local builder and they are all very upset .... They all advised me that since I am a seasonal resident that I have absolutely no chance of having any success in obtaining a more reasonable assessment. I have been visiting Watauga County for many years. And in 1992, my wife and I decided to build a new home here. And yes, like so many of us we live in Florida and spend our glorious summers and fall at our home in Watauga County. We consider ourselves every bit a part of this wonderful community just as those who are here full time. And we are regular contributors to the High Country United Way, Blowing Rock Stage Co. (and Foundation), ASU Summer Festival, Watauga County Library, Blowing Rock Hospital Society, etc., etc. But we are pensioners of a fixed income."

"Pensioners of a fixed income." It's such a curious locution, tagged onto the end of such obvious flaunting of second-home-owning affluence, that our curiosity was aroused.

Mr. Roy's Watauga County home, built as he told us in 1992, includes two lots in Greystone, amounting to a total (re)assessed value of $776,900 (here and here). If Jim Deal and those horrible tax-and-spend Democrats keep the tax rate where it's been, Mr. Roy would owe approximately $2,952 on his Watauga County properties. Which turns out to be an actual bargain when compared to the OTHER place Mr. Roy owns property, Lee County, Florida, and the town of Bonita Springs, where Mr. Roy paid a whopping $6,209.90 in property taxes last year (Lee County tax collector site is here).

A logical question naturally presents itself: did a tax hawk like Mr. Roy raise a fuss with Lee County commissioners over his Bonita Springs tax bill? Not that we can find searching the archives at nor at the Ft. Myers News-Press site. We wondered why a "pensioner of a fixed income" wouldn't complain to his local government in Florida, where's he's paying almost three times as much in property taxes. Well, now, might it have something to do with the fact that the ENTIRE COUNTY COMMISSION in Lee County, Florida, is REPUBLICAN? Hell, even the tax collector, Cathy Curtis, is REPUBLICAN.

But Watauga County, N.C., has a new majority of Democrats on its County Commission, so Mr. Roy takes out his wrath on them.

"A pensioner of a fixed income" is also a partisan with an axe to grind.

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