Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Dear candidate Kunkle: We are not overtaxed and underserved by the city (but maybe by DISD)
We pay taxes to the city in a variety of ways but the two main ones are through sales and property taxes. One percent of all sales tax-eligible dollars consumers spend within the Dallas city limits goes into the city’s coffers. There are two things to remember about property taxes. The first is only about 25 percent of the total property taxes a homeowner pays goes to the city. About an equal amount goes to the county. The other 50 percent goes to the Dallas Independent School District. So, if you think your are overtaxed and underserved, it’s because you pay a lot in property taxes and don’t have a child attending Dallas public schools.
For years, we have sent misguided souls to the Dallas School Board who thought “things” were far more important than students. So money was poured into building new facilities while families fled to the suburbs or enrolled their students in private schools. Now we are paying for those mistakes because the current budget shortfall is forcing DISD to layoff teachers so it has enough money to pay the debt on all those capital projects. When was the last time you heard of a school board candidate run on a platform of “overtaxed and underserved”? No, it’s all about improving the quality of education which they think means “build another school,” which only serves to raise your property taxes even more.
But the last I heard the overwhelming majority of Dallas residents pay no property taxes directly at all because they are not property owners. More Dallas residents live in rented apartments than own single family homes. I have queried the Dallas Apartment Association for updated statistics and as soon as I receive them I will pass them on.
Until the city can find a way to levy some form of a rental tax that’s on a parity with what nearby property owners pay in property taxes, than you can’t argue that Dallas residents are overtaxed and underserved, especially at the city level.
UPDATE ON APRIL 13: I finally got the figures I was looking for. According to Gene Kriska, director of member/information services for the Dallas Apartment Association, 53 percent of the Dallas population lives in rental units and thus directly pays no property taxes.