MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

November 4, 2012

Little attention paid to property tax proposal

— OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A proposed state Constitutional amendment that would reduce the maximum increase in Oklahoma property taxes is drawing little attention — even from those who say it would cost them increased revenue.

State Question 758 would cap annual increases in property taxes at 3 percent, down from the current 5 percent.

The proposal would mean an estimated drop of $5.6 million a year for common education and CareerTech schools, said Oklahoma State School Boards Association spokeswoman Emily Hutton, citing an estimate from the Oklahoma Tax Commission.

"We are not taking a position," Hutton said. "What we are doing is educating our members on, if it would pass, what it would mean for education."

County government officials have also stayed on the sidelines on the issue, said Dave Herbert, a former state senator and now a lobbyist for the County Government Legislative Council. He said there are no plans by the council to actively oppose the plan, which has been estimated to cost counties statewide $2 million to $3 million in increased collections they will not receive.

"Of course, everybody hates property taxes. And the reason they do is it's a surprise every year. You know what you're energy bill is each month, but when you get your property tax at the end of the year, it's bam, it's a surprise," Herbert said.

"We don't have any campaign at all against it," he said.

The proposal, placed on the ballot by the Legislature in 2011, was co-authored by Rep. David Dank and former Sen. Jim Reynolds, who is now the Cleveland County treasurer and facing potentially smaller collections due to the plan.

Reynolds, a Republican, said his change in jobs has not changed his mind about the proposal.

"They (county governments) are still going to get their increases, they're still going to see growth, but it's going to be at the level the average citizen sees," according to Reynolds. "They have to live within their means just as mom and pop do.

"With a 5 percent increase, property taxes will about double in a little over 14 years, but at 3 percent it takes more than 20 (years), according to Reynolds.

Dank, R-Oklahoma City, said he thinks holding down taxes wherever possible is always a good idea.

"A 3 percent increase is not a cut in taxes. I tell (county governments) that they're still going to get all their money, it's just going to take them a little longer to do it," Reynolds said.

The plan also has the support of Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, whose office issued a statement noting that the cap would apply only to a resident's primary home and to agricultural land.

"Passage of State Question 758 would provide needed tax relief for homeowners by controlling the rapid increase in property taxes many taxpayers have struggled with in recent years," the statement said.

The proposal is one of six state questions that will be decided by voters Tuesday.

 

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