Monthly Archives: October 2018

Beaufort County Referendum Seeks Funding For Roads and Walkways

Update (Nov. 7, 2018): Voters in Beaufort County, S.C. decided to approve the Penny Tax referendum by 58-42, which was a decisive victory. Stand by for more updates on what this will mean for your community. Sign up for updates.

Roads in Beaufort County are traffic bottlenecks making it difficult for residents to get to and from work or even just get around town. Even Beaufort County vacationers are finding themselves trapped in snarled traffic, often on bridges and roadways not built to accommodate the increase in vehicles on the road today.

Beaufort County’s latest tax proposal is a ballot referendum based on common sense and seeks to help rectify these traffic-related problems.

After failing to pass a penny tax increase in 2016, the County proposed a one percent sales tax increase again this year, but with a much-needed caveat – the tax will go away after four years, or upon raising $120 million in revenue, whichever happens first.

In addition, the proposal requires all tax revenue to go toward the repair and installation of roads, bridges and sidewalks in Beaufort County. This guarantees that local tax revenue does, in fact, stay local and improve the Beaufort County Community.

Three specific projects the tax revenue will fund are:

  • Hilton Head Island – $80 million will be spent to make traffic improvements to the U.S. 278 corridor. The improvements include repairing and replacing existing spans of bridges leading to and from Hilton Head Island as well as road improvements between Moss Creek Drive and Squire Pope Road.
  • Lady Island – $30 million will be earmarked for traffic improvements, specifically to improve the roadways between the Woods Memorial Bridge and the Chowan Creek Bridge.
  • Beaufort County –$10 million will be used for sidewalk and multi-use pathway improvements across the County. County Council has identified 24 locations that, with improvements, would help provide safe walking routes to schools and improved access to residential communities.

Of the $120 million raised in additional revenue, roughly $48 million – or 40 percent – will be borne by Beaufort County tourists and visitors whenever they make local, taxable purchases. This shared tax burden will make it easier on Beaufort County residents who will ultimately reap the benefits of the additional tax revenue in the form of improved traffic and faster access to and from Hilton Head and Lady’s Island.

A poll conducted in July by American Strategies showed that 63 percent of likely voters in Beaufort County supports the referendum, with an even greater number (68 percent) agreeing that sidewalk repairs across the county is a significant infrastructure need.

By voting yes on the referendum, Beaufort County voters will be investing in their future.  Not only will residents directly benefit from the proposed infrastructure improvements, but they will also reap the tangential benefit of increased tourism in the years to come.

Ada County Considers Fee Increase to Address Infrastructure

Update (Nov. 7, 2018): Voters in Ada County, Idaho decided to vote against a vehicle registration increase by 53-47. Stand by for more updates on what this might mean to the Ada County community. Sign up for updates.

You may have seen the commercial urging voters to approve the vehicle registration fee increase ballot measure in Ada County.

As the commercial states, getting around Ada County has become a losing rat race. To correct the rat race, the ballot measure proposes to increase vehicle registration fees to fund infrastructure spending throughout Ada County, including improved streets, more turn lanes, modernized signals for better traffic flow, new bike lanes, better sidewalks and safe routes for school children.

While no one likes to approve increases in taxes or fees, this one makes sense.

Ada County is one of the fastest growing areas not just in Idaho, but the entire country. Ada County’s booming population means more cars, and when there are more cars, there will be more traffic. The roads and traffic systems in Ada County are not designed to handle this ever-growing influx of people and cars.

The revenue raised by the increase in vehicle registration fees will allow the Ada County Highway Division (ACHD) to fix the growing infrastructure-spending deficit. The measure imposes an average annual fee increase of $18. Currently, vehicle owners  pay $40 for one-or-two year old vehicles, $36 for three-to-six year old vehicles and $24 for seven year old or older vehicles

The ballot measure, seeks to raise the local fees to $70, $63 and $42 respectively.

Additionally, other vehicles will be impacted with registration fees as well.

It is estimated the additional registration fees will raise $7.5 million specifically purposed for projects targeting traffic congestion, major road improvements and the creation of sidewalk, bike lane and “Safe Routes to School” improvements.

Congestion relief projects would include new vehicle detectors and signal timing hardware to improve traffic flow, as well as new turn lanes at busy intersections. These improvements have already been added as part of a pilot program on Chinden Blvd. This new digital technology, which is used at eight intersections on Chinden Blvd. between Locust Grove and Highway 16, allows the ACHD to update the length of time at specific traffic signals in real time, reducing rush hour commutes by as much as 20 percent.

Using radar as opposed to video, the ACHD can remotely change the timing of traffic signals based on the number of cars waiting for a light to change. Most current traffic signals in Ada County currently require an on-site monitoring, an analysis of the data and then a manual correction of the timing device of the signal, which can take weeks to complete. This new technology can address a traffic flow problem in real time.

Upping the registration fee will allow for these improvements to occur sooner rather than later and allow Ada County to keep up with the record-breaking growth it is experiencing.

Some opponents to the measure feel that problems resulting from growth shouldn’t fall on the shoulders of existing residents, but rather those developers who are creating this growth.

The ACHD charges the impact fees allowed under Idaho law on all new homes, stores and commercial and industrial buildings to pay for the new roadway features needed to serve the growth. But, any roadway expansion project, by law, needs to be underwritten by local tax revenue.

In addition, an increase in registration fees will ensure that ACHD gets the most impact fees allowed by law.

More money from registration fees will ensure ACHD has the needed funding, the 20-year building plan stays on track and that development is charged the maximum allowed by law.

Chicago Freedom Movement Photographer Comes to Dayton

Bernard Kleina
Bernard Kleina flanked by Dayton REALTORS® CEO Andrew Sims and a member of the Miami Valley Fair Housing Board.

As a 30-year-old priest in suburban Chicago, Bernard Kleina decided to go to the march in Marquette Park to take pictures. The march, organized by Dr. Martin Luther King, was part of the Chicago Freedom Movement in 1966.

Kleina had a feeling it would be an occasion worth memorializing in photos. Little did he know just how important his decision to bring his Kodak camera to the march with him would be.

His collection of photos turned out to be the defining proof of just how respectful and disciplined King and the rest of the marchers were.

Meanwhile, it also documented the chaos of rocks and cherry bombs being thrown by protesters walking the same route, with only the Chicago police separating them.

Bernard Kleina’s Traveling Photo Exhibit

The photos of the Chicago Freedom Movement are some of the only photos of King that are in color, as color film was still rare at the time. The photos have been on display at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama. Some of them have been featured online through the Smithsonian Institution. And Kleina, who left the priesthood in 1968 after getting arrested at a march in Alabama, has been taking his photos around the country speaking to schools and professional organizations to remind them of the significance of the actions and words of Dr. King.

One of those stops was in Dayton, Ohio where the Dayton REALTORS® co-hosted a fair housing luncheon with the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center this past April. The event was a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. More than 240 people attended the event.

Kleina, now 82, has been a fair housing activist for many years, and was the keynote speaker at the Dayton event.

“The initial showing of the photos was really well-received by those in attendance,” said Dayton REALTORS® President Bob Morrison. “I personally enjoyed it because I lived through those times and I remember those events. [Kleina] was able to give additional information about each of the pictures that really provided great context and made each of them all the more meaningful to those of us in attendance.”

President Bob Morrison addressing the luncheon attendees
« 1 of 4 »

Dayton REALTORS® Celebrate Fair Housing Act Anniversary

The day’s activities started with a three-hour continuing education class titled, “Fair Housing Survey 1968-2018.” The centerpiece of the class was Kleina and his photo exhibit.

He riveted the audience with his still very concise and powerful memories of the obstacles and opposition Dr. King and the protesters experienced in Chicago during the marches of 1965-1966.

“I’m trying to keep Dr. King’s dream alive, which, of course, is our dream — that everyone has an equal opportunity for success,” Kleina told the Chicago Sun-Times about his speaking engagements in which he shares his historic photographs.

Morrison said that Dayton REALTORS® didn’t just take this anniversary as the opportunity to talk about fair housing, but that it offers courses and classes throughout the year at the Fair Housing Center that are often well-attended.

The Marie Kindrick Awards

At the event, the Dayton REALTORS® also awarded their Marie Kindrick Awards during the luncheon. The Marie Kindrick Award is given to individuals in recognition of their commitment and passion in upholding the ideals of fair housing.

“Fair housing is important to every community but in Dayton especially we’ve made strides in fair housing and we are continuing to work on those issues,” Morrison said.

The previous night, a special opening of the traveling photo exhibit was held for invited guests. The opening of the exhibit was called, “Open Housing, the Origins of Fair Housing as seen through the Chicago Freedom Movement.” The exhibit opened at exactly 6:01 PM, the exact time marking Dr. King’s death on April 4, 1968.

This exhibit, which was housed at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, then remained open after the Fair Housing Luncheon for the public to view on docent led tours.

This two-day event gave a deeper understanding of fair housing laws and the oft-difficult journey taken by those who were discriminated against and who fought for the right of all to have equal opportunity to the housing of their choice.

“Fair housing makes us stronger by being able to emphasize the importance of fair housing for everyone, not just a few,” Morrison said. “It has to be a paramount issue for every REALTOR® in the business. It should be a tenet of the whole country. It should be ingrained into our livelihood. It needs to be promoted at all levels of real estate at all times. Not one segment of the community should be left out of the ability of obtaining housing that they want. Everyone needs an opportunity to get the housing they desire.

“In my generation, buying a home was general nature. Nowadays, not so much. For the general population, the ability to do that has to be across the board. It’s good that we have programs to assist people into affording housing. Education is an important part of housing for homebuyers, and we need to continue to provide that education as much as we can.”

Fair Housing Continues To Be An Important Issue For Northern Virginians

Virginia’s Regional Fair Housing Symposium

The Northern Virginia Association of Realtors® (NVAR) sponsored an important regional event this past April, Virginia’s Regional Fair Housing Symposium, “Fair Housing Act at 50: The State of Fair Housing in the District”. The event was spearheaded by the Fairfax County Office of Human Rights and Equity Programs and attended by both REALTORS® and community members.

NVAR Chairman of the Board Lorraine Arora shared that despite the bill’s passage in 1968, the Fair Housing Act compliance is still an issue for Northern Virginia today. “As REALTORS® we often hear firsthand how homeowners are experiencing discrimination during their housing search,” she said. “NVAR has made a priority to make sure our REALTORS® understand why this issue is so important, and how they can advocate for all homeowners during the home buying process.”

Senator Tim Kaine

During the symposium, keynote speaker Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) explained how homeownership defines us, “Physical things are not important. But a house is an extension of who you are as a person; it is an extension of your personality.” He went on to talk about how providing a stable home can meet emotional needs and have a lasting psychological impact on families, underscoring how important it was that everyone be given the opportunity for homeownership.

As a young lawyer in Richmond, Kaine’s first case was a housing discrimination complaint. Kaine’s client, an African-American named Lorraine, had a difficult experience during her home search. “Lorraine inquired about a listing she liked, and was invited to view the property,” Kaine said. “When she arrived, she was informed that the place was ‘already taken.’ Suspicious, she asked her colleague to ask about availability, and he was invited to come the next day.”

Fair Housing Art and Literary Contest

NVAR knows that cases such as Lorraine’s are not just a thing of the past. Because of this, the association remains actively involved with fair housing, and hosts the Fairfax County Fair Housing Task Force for its quarterly meetings. In addition to sponsoring the symposium, NVAR provides cash prizes for the annual Fair Housing Art and Literary Contest hosted by The Fairfax County Student Human Rights Commission.

The contest was created to raise awareness among Fairfax County high school students about fair housing issues and laws. Promoting the importance of providing equal housing opportunities for all. This year’s theme was, Fair Housing: 50 Years and Building More.

Christina Choi of Centreville High School won for art and Kaycee Hubbard of Chantilly High School won for literature. Each student received a $300 prize.

Arora shared, “Our association will continue to seek out opportunities to educate homeowners and REALTORS® regarding fair housing compliance.”

South Lake Tahoe Tackles Short-Term Rentals

UPDATE: This election remains too close to call. At last count there was a razor-thin margin of only 25 votes. Stay tuned for a final, official tally and how that result will impact South Lake Tahoe.

Lake Tahoe is one of the premier tourist destinations in California, with thousands of visitors each year coming from around the world.

Cabins in the city of South Lake Tahoe have been rented for generations.

But custom and tradition can soon be gone in this California community if voters approve Measure T on Election Day in November.

About Measure T

Measure T is an initiative to curb short-term rentals in South Lake Tahoe by revoking the permits of 1,400 vacation rental homes located outside the city’s “tourism core” by 2021.

In 2017, City Council designated a small strip of land along Lake Tahoe Blvd. as its’ “tourism core.” There are approximately 450 vacation rental homes in this area. The others are in more residential sections of South Lake Tahoe and have engendered complaints from full-time residents due to the actions of some of the renters.

The city has attempted to address resident complaints pertaining to short term rentals since 2003 when it first adopted an ordinance. City Council has frequently, in the past 15 years, reviewed their ordinance and amended it to address issues that arise.

Last December, the city amended the ordinance once again by imposing stricter fines for parking and noise disturbances and capping the number of permitted properties outside of the core at 1,400.

Mayor Wendy David told the Sacramento Bee that these changes have already resulted in a reduction of the number of violations and complaints from previous years and that fewer citations have been written.

She added that more time is needed for members of the community to recognize these positive trends.

Tourism and the Economy

South Lake Tahoe is a community that relies heavily on tourism to make up its’ tax base as well as a primary revenue resource for city services and maintaining quality of life for residents. A whopping 78% of all homes in South Lake Tahoe are either second homes or vacation rental properties.

Vacation home renters infuse more than $100 million annually into the local economy. If Measure T passes, approximately 75% of that revenue would go away by 2021, when the permits on the homes outside of the tourism core would expire and not renew.

With that revenue loss, more than $3 million would have to be cut out of the city’s annual operating budget, which could lead to cuts in the police, fire and parks and recreation departments. Jobs in both the public and private sectors would be lost. Smaller businesses would suddenly be at risk. Infrastructure needs like road repair would slow to a crawl or be neglected entirely.

“The city collects $1.49 million annually in tax revenue from the rental of the vacation homes alone.”

The city collects $1.49 million annually in tax revenue from the rental of the vacation homes alone, let alone money spent by renters on commerce in the vacation community. That too would shrivel to a much smaller number.

Another potential issue is that owners of current vacation home rental properties have grown accustomed to the financial benefit that their private property has provided and may choose to “go underground.” They may still rent it out on various online platforms, leading to more difficult enforcement by the city to stop illegal rentals, as well as dealing with any parking or noise ordinances that could crop up.

Additionally, a voter-approved new Recreation Center to replace the current dilapidated building and pool very likely would not have the funding necessary to be completed without the revenue generated from the existing vacation home rentals in the city.

Property Rights Concerns

Property owners have rights to use their home as they see fit as long as it doesn’t negatively impact the neighborhood or community. The passage of Measure T in November would infringe on those private property rights and negatively impact the vast majority of property owners who own vacation home rentals that operate in full compliance with the city and whose renters do not disturb or disrupt the community.

For the small number that do, strict ordinances and decreasing law enforcement response times are leading to quieter neighborhoods.

South Lake Tahoe has been a destination location for renters since before the city was incorporated. That incorporation, in 1965, was the result of the revenue generated by those renters and it’s been growing year-over-year ever since. Suddenly changing that would make for a very different community.

Ohio REALTORS® commemorate the 50th Anniversary

Fair housing makes us stronger. It provides opportunity… it opens doors…and it gives everyone a fair and equal chance to realize the American Dream!

Ohio REALTORS® are proud to commemorate the 50th Anniversary this landmark legislation in the newest segment of our “We Are Ohio REALTORS®” video series.

Northwest Indiana community commemorates Fair Housing anniversary

Photo

Brenda Miley had a client who was looking to buy a home in Northwest Indiana. The client was a business executive. He could practically afford to buy whatever house he wanted in any neighborhood. However, moving to the area from Atlanta with his wife, he didn’t have the opportunity to constantly travel to the area to look at housing options.

When Brenda found a home that she thought the client would like, she contacted him, and he and his wife flew to Indiana to see the property. They instantly fell in love and made an offer on the house.

The seller accepted enthusiastically, so much so that she sent a package of Easter eggs to the buyer.

Closing was still a way off, as the new owner wasn’t looking to move to Indiana until September, so there was time for things to change – and did they ever.

First, the listing agent contacted Miley and started asking questions about the buyers. Miley found this to be disconcerting but was especially taken aback when the agent asked her about the client’s ethnic background.

“I told her I couldn’t disclose that information, but it was really troublesome,” Miley said. “I didn’t expect what happened next.”

The buyer and his wife had loaded all of their belongings in a U-Haul and made the lengthy commute from Atlanta to Indiana. When they arrived, they asked Miley if they could get access to the house in advance of closing, not to unload their belongings, but to do a final check and plan out where everything was going to go.

Miley brought them to the house, and when they got there, the owners were waiting. They wouldn’t let them in, because the buyers were African-American.

A day later, the sellers bailed out on closing, because they didn’t want to sell their home to an African-American couple.

“It was horrible,” Miley said. “Here was this couple, with all their belongings in a new community expecting to move into a home, and they had nowhere to go. I had to quickly find them a new home, but it really irked me that the seller backed out of the sale because they felt like they were protecting their neighbors.”

This happened in 1993. Twenty-five years after the passing of the Fair Housing Act.

That’s why, when the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of REALTORS® (GNIAR) came together with the Northwest Indiana Reinvestment Alliance to be a diverse and powerful voice for the residents of Lake County, Ind. held an event last April to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, Miley, a past president of GNIAR, wouldn’t miss the event.

“Fair Housing has long been a challenge in Northwest Indiana,” she said. “We’ve definitely come a long way, but there is still work to do. Having an event like the one we had in April is important because I do think it is something of which we should always be mindful. If not, we can fall into the same crap from way back when. I know politics is divisive right now, but it doesn’t matter your politics we should be more accepting of each other as human beings, and that’s what the Fair Housing Act reminds us.”

The event brought together more than 100 community leaders from local governments, not-for-profit service organizations, lending institutions and REALTOR® firms.

To begin the afternoon, there was a two-hour class, about the history that led to the Fair Housing Act which also engaged in case studies of real life situations in Indiana.

Following this “lead off” portion was the main event that brought:

  • an inspirational message from Highland Clerk-Treasurer Michael Griffin about the meaning of fair housing,
  • a presentation from Rev. Charles Emery, Pastor, Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church titled: “Fair Housing and Community Development: Today’s Importance.”
  • A speech from the Honorable Richard Hatcher, former Mayor of Gary, Ind. (1968-1987) who gave a firsthand historical account of “The State of Fair Housing in 1968.”

The evening concluded with an awards presentation to community leaders recognized for their outstanding leadership in the area of fair housing and a networking reception.

“Fair housing brings together the people of this country into one community,” Miley said. “Our pledge of allegiance says one thing, but if we want it to be that way, we need that mindset across the board – care about everyone and help everyone the same way. Everyone matters. That’s how fair housing makes us stronger.”

Californians to Vote on Local Transfer Tax Issues

Update (Nov. 7, 2018): Voters in five of the six cities mentioned in this story decided to approve increases in transfer taxes by wide margins. Hayward (58-42), Oakland (67-33), Richmond (64-36), Berkeley (71-29) and El Cerrito (54-46) all approved tax hikes. Only Union City (45-55) voted against a transfer tax increase. Stand by for more updates on what this might mean for your East Bay community. Sign up for updates.

Six cities on the East Bay have measures on the November 6 ballot that would increase transfer taxes when properties are sold in an effort to better balance city budgets.

In almost all cities in California, the only tax is that which is levied by the counties, but some cities do charge an additional tax with Bay Area cities like Oakland and Berkeley already having the highest transfer tax rates in the state.

State law requires property owners to pay a county transfer tax of $1.10 for every $1,000 of sale price. Counties usually split that tax with the cities. However, cities with their own home rule charters that are independent of the state can increase transfer taxes if voters approve.

The cost of housing in California, specifically on the East Bay is already prohibitive for a lot of middle-income families. Increasing the cost of transfer taxes for homes in cities like Hayward, Richmond, Oakland, Berkeley and Union City would make homes in the region less affordable.

While these taxes are typically split between buyers and sellers, the new tax increases would cost homeowners and homebuyers thousands of dollars more to buy or sell a home.

Currently, most cities in California pay a transfer tax of $275 on a $250,000 property, $825 on a $750,000 property, $1,375 on a $1,250,000 property, $1,925 on a $1,750,000 property and $2,475 on a $2,250,000 property.

According to data compiled by the San Jose Mercury News the following cities would see the biggest jumps in transfer taxes:

  • Hayward (Measure T) would see a $1,000 increase on a home valued at $250,000; a $3,000 increase on a home valued at $750,000; a $5,000 increase on a home valued at $1,250,000; a $7,000 increase on a home valued at $1,750,000; and a $9,000 increase on a home valued at $2,250,000.
  • Richmond (Measure H) would have an increase of $6,875 on a home valued at $1,250,000; A spike of $9,625 on a home valued at $1,750,000 and a jump of $12,375 on a home valued at $2,225,000.
  • Oakland (Measure X) would see an increase by $5,625 for a home valued at $2,225,000. That would make the transfer tax on a property of that value $41,850, or nearly 17 times that of most every other city in California.
  • Berkeley (Measure P) would see an increase of $17,500 for a home valued at $1,750,000 and a jump of $22,500 for a home valued at $2,225,000, bringing their new taxes to nearly 24 times that of mostly every other city in California on properties of those values.
  • Union City (Measure EE) would be adding a city tax for the first time and increasing the current taxes by $2,500 on a $250,000 home; $7,500 on a $750,000 home; $12,500 on a $1,250,000 home; $17,500 on a $1,750,000 home and $22,500 on a $2,225,000 home.

All of this data means people looking to buy homes in these cities would have to borrow even more money to finance the purchase of their home. As for sellers, they get the tax deducted from their equity, which is less money available for their next down payment.

Homeowners in California have already born the burden of taxes for the cities with growing property taxes and levies for infrastructure needs, combatting homelessness and subsidizing pensions for public employees.

Additionally, if any of these measures pass, these taxes would be on top of the county tax, which would still exist by state law regardless of the individual city’s charter.

Here is a break down of each of the aforementioned Measures and how they will directly affect each city:

Hayward (Measure T): The tax rate would increase from 0.56 percent to 0.96 percent.

Richmond (Measure H): The tax rate would jump from 0.81 percent to 1.36 percent for properties between $1 million and $3 million; to 2.61 percent for properties between $3 million and $10 million; and 3.11 percent for properties over $10 million.

Oakland (Measure X): This is the only measure that includes a reduction at some levels. Measure X would reduce the transfer tax rate from the current 1.61 percent to 1.11 percent for properties less than $300,000. It would remain at the current rate for properties between $300,000 and $2 million and increase to 1.86 percent for properties between $2 million and $5 million and 2.61 percent for properties over $5million.

Berkeley (Measure P): This measure would raise the current tax rate of 1.61 percent to 2.61 percent for all properties valued at $1.5 million or higher. This increase would last 10 years. The city has said this new tax revenue would be used to tackle homelessness and mental health issues, however the money would be ticketed for the city’s general fund, which is designed for any purpose the city needs.

Union City (Measure EE): This measure would make Union City a charter city and permanently increase their transfer tax rate from 0.11 percent to 1.11 percent on all properties regardless of value.

 

Arizonans To Vote On The “Protect Arizona Taxpayers Act”

Update (Nov. 7, 2018): Voters in Arizona decided to pass Proposition 126 by a margin of 65-35, which was a decisive victory. Stand by for more updates on what this will mean to your community. Sign up for updates.

There are currently no taxes on services in Arizona. Voters have the option in November to make sure it stays that way – permanently.

Service taxes are taxes levied by the government on service providers on certain service transactions but is actually borne by the customers.

Proposition 126 would create the Protect Arizona Taxpayers Act. If approved by the electorate, the Act will amend the Arizona Constitution to protect taxpayers from state and local governments imposing any new sales tax or use tax on services.

The legislature has had the right to do that for many years now and hasn’t acted on it, but some trends from around the country are starting to give some folks pause as to what could be coming just around the bend for Arizonans if it’s not passed.

North Carolina, for example, recently expanded its sales-tax base by adding a tax on a variety of maintenance, installation and repair services. In Kentucky, services such as auto repairs, fitness classes, limousine rentals and even pet grooming had new taxes thrust on them in 2018. Oklahoma and Washington also added taxes on some of their services and Illinois has begun discussing this in their most recent legislative session.

The Protect Arizona Taxpayers Act is designed to prohibit state lawmakers from implementing a new sales tax on services that Arizonans use every day.

While it is true that taxes on services would require a vote of two-thirds of the legislature – meaning there would at least need to be some bi-partisan support – lawmakers could cut deals to add extra taxes on everyday items that would hit the pocketbooks of residents in the state, especially middle-income residents and families.

Also, that two-thirds vote requirement, is no longer needed if the legislature were to simultaneously reduce taxes elsewhere in equivalent dollar amounts.

Here are some examples of services that could be taxed in Arizona beginning as soon as 2019 if Proposition 126 fails:

  • Health care services – including services from primary-care physicians, surgeons, physical therapists, dentists, optometrists and even mental health providers.
  • Family services such as childcare, tutoring and self-defense classes.
  • Home services like lawn care and landscaping, new construction, plumbing needs, installations and repairs such as heating and air conditioning and appraisals and inspections.
  • Professional services that could add taxes to banking needs, accounting services, advertising for local businesses and real estate transactions.
  • Personal services that are considered part of a person’s day-to-day needs like haircuts and manicures, auto repairs and dry cleaning. Even life altering decisions – like permanent tattoos or funding the funeral of a loved one would be considered fair game.

Sales taxes hurt low-and middle-income families more than anyone else. Proposition 126 aims at protecting those who are least able to afford new taxes, like senior citizens, the disabled and others on fixed incomes.

Additionally, this could serve as a double tax on small business owners. They are already taxed via the state income tax. Without protection of taxes against services, they could then be hit a second time by paying an additional tax for the same labor.

Opponents to Proposition 126 will say that the legislature hasn’t taxed services yet, so a pre-emptive strike when an emergency might come up down the road might not be as beneficial to Arizona as one would think. However, a new sales tax on services was recently proposed in the Arizona Legislature, and it wasn’t an emergency situation, meaning that if it can be proposed, it can happen, emergency or not.

Interestingly, in the gubernatorial race in Arizona, both major party candidates oppose Proposition 126. As do a collection of bipartisan lawmakers.

However, Arizona voters don’t seem to agree with the candidates or their elected officials.

The Arizona Republic partnered with Suffolk University in Massachusetts to conduct a poll in Arizona regarding Proposition 126. That poll showed that 48 percent of the voters would support Proposition 126 and prevent a tax on services, while 31.4 percent did not support the measure. The remaining 20.6 percent were undecided.

The poll included 500 likely registered voters and was taken by live telephone operators.

It will be quite interesting to see how this plays out in November because it seems lawmakers and voters might not be on the same page.

Oregon’s Ballot Measure 104 Would Close Legislative Loopholes

Update (Nov. 7, 2018): Voters in Oregon decided to vote against Proposition 104 by a decisive vote of 65-35. Stand by for more updates on what this might mean for your community. Sign up for updates.

More than 20 years ago, Oregon voters approved a constitutional amendment requiring a supermajority to approve tax increases in the state legislature.

It was a great idea then, and it remains a great idea now. Because of that supermajority requirement, a bipartisan effort is typically needed to increase taxes, which means there would be a justifiable reason to raise taxes on Oregonians.

Since then, politicians have created loopholes in order to introduce tax increase legislation that only require a simple majority to pass.

In the past two legislative sessions alone, at least 25 bills have been introduced in Salem that circumvented this constitutional amendment.

Most of these proposals would impact everyday citizens of Oregon. Middle-income families and small business owners alike were the targets of these tax increases.

  • There was an attempt to eliminate the home mortgage interest tax deduction for many taxpayers – a toll that provides over a half-million Oregon households a deduction on their state income taxes. They also considered a proposal to eliminate property tax deductions and other legislation damaging to homeowners. (HB 2006–2017)
  • Oregon politicians have long been in pursuit of a carbon tax, known as cap and trade. The legislation would require Oregon companies to pay a tax on carbon emissions which would hurt consumers by substantially increasing the costs of transportation, food and utilities, while also resulting in job losses. Politicians attempted this without a supermajority vote and without providing Oregonians evidence that it would result in reduced carbon emissions. (SB 965- 2015; SB 1070- 2017; HB 4001- 2018)
  • Most concerning, the legislature robbed thousands of Oregon small businesses of recent federal tax cuts by disconnecting from the federal tax code – raising $244 million in new revenue from Oregon small businesses on a simple majority vote. (SB 1528– 2018)

Oregonians now have a chance to close those loopholes.

Ballot Measure 104 would once again clarify that politicians can’t raise revenue without a supermajority vote.

That means, not only would the supermajority vote be required for raising taxes, but would be required to eliminate tax deductions, create new fees or increase existing fees without broad support.

It ensures balanced, bipartisan agreements are in place before being passed on to the hard-working citizens of Oregon.

And it’s not just about finding a way to not raise taxes.

Many of these same Oregonians who would be adversely affected by such legislation that could be passed with such a slim margin are homeowners – or trying to become homeowners for the first time.

The cost of housing is a significantly challenging issue in Oregon. From the state’s biggest cities to its most rural counties, many young citizens and families are unable to afford buying their first home, even when they are trying. Being saddled with more college debt is making the dream of homeownership seem distant enough, and homeownership should be an affordable option for everybody.

Giving small factions of politicians the ability to make laws that make it harder to own a home or even maintain ownership of a home is not in the best interest of the residents of Oregon.

Tax increases, fee increases, new fees and eliminating or curbing tax deductions that many homeowners or first-time buyers are counting on are difficult decisions that should have substantial, bi-partisan legislative support before being passed. As such, they shouldn’t be put into law by as slim a margin as one vote.

Politicians need to look for balanced solutions to fund state government. Measure 104 seeks to ensure that. More than 174,000 Oregonians signed a petition supporting the measure and they were backed by more than 15 statewide business organizations and grassroots groups supporting it.

Oregonians seem to want to ensure that changes to their taxes should be done for a good reason – one that a majority of people support.