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Opinion: Taxes and the right to complain?

by | Aug 23, 2018 | Opinion

My Dad used to say, and probably still would, ‘Don’t complain unless you’re willing to do something about it.’

I’m pretty sure that he didn’t coin the phrase, so this is probably not a new expression to you. You may have been told, or heard, the same idiom.

This column, however, is not about my Dad. This is about getting out from behind your screen of choice and becoming part of the process.

One of the mediums this local newspaper uses in social media. We use it to break news, draw people to current stories and look for feedback and ideas about future stories.

When we post something about your community using social media, the feedback that is generated gives us an idea of what is ‘important’ based on the volume of comments.

If the post involves local property taxes, it’s interesting to read the comments that begin to emerge. In some cases just using the ‘t’ word evokes displeasure, annoyance, frustration, complaints of all kinds and even threats of For Sale signs.

As a newspaper, it’s our job to keep you informed about what’s going on in your community, and local taxes is just part what we write about. This is not a new topic to our staff writers. The property tax story life cycle begins in early May and continues until late September. We start and finish this life cycle every year. Every year.

What’s that got to do with complaining? A lot I contend.

Whether this is the first year you’ve been alarmed about property taxes, or this topic has been on your radar for years, I have a question.

Have you stepped beyond the complaining stage?

If you have, congratulations, you have become part of the process and exercised your right to make your voice heard.

Maybe you called your local councilmember or trustee to express your opinion about your property tax bill. Maybe you called your school superintendent, city manager or mayor to express concerns or voice questions. Maybe you sent an email, text, or even mailed a letter you wrote to go on the ‘record’ about your feelings in this matter.

If so, I applaud you. It probably wasn’t that hard and I’m sure the sky did not fall.

But here’s the deal. How many people do you know that did the same? Probably not a whole bunch.

I’ll wager though, that if you read our social media pages, you’ll see a whole lot of opinions about property taxes. Some founded, some not.

Don’t you think it’s time to put up or……?

Look, I’m just as guilty of complaining as the next person. But if I listen to my father’s voice I know I could and should do more.

This is property tax season for cities. All you have to do is look through some of the pages of this week’s newspaper and you’ll find some Notice of Tax Rate and Budget Hearing Notices for a few communities we serve.

If you don’t like what you see, what’s your next step?

As my Dad would say……

For more stories like this see the Aug. 23 issue or subscribe online.

By Chad Engbrock • [email protected]

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