Monday, February 18, 2008

Albemarle Truth in Taxation Alliance (ATTA) .. success in 2007

ATTA saves Albemarle Taxpayers nearly $10 million
Guest column by Keith C. Drake, Ph.D. - Chairman, ATTA

ATTA Town Hall Meeting
Lane Auditorium, Albemarle County Office Building
Monday, February 25 - 7 p.m.
The truth about this year's budget; learn how YOU can help.

In the winter of 2007, a group of concerned Albemarle citizens rose up and spoke out against a massive tax increase proposed by county government. They educated taxpayers about a little-known state law that requires counties and cities to lower the real estate tax rate by a proportional amount of any assessment increase (§ 58.1-3321).

How much did ATTA save you in 2007? If your home assessment is $300,000, you kept $180.* That's REAL money YOU decide how to spend.

These citizens understood the law's intent: to begin a new budgeting process with the same amount of money spent in the previous year-so that local government must justify any tax increase in a transparent manner. Last year, that law dropped our rate from 74¢ to 58¢, and we forced the discussion of how much to raise that rate above 58¢. Here's what we accomplished:

-- Dozens spoke at the two public budget hearings
-- Hundreds sent letters and emails, and placed phone calls to our supervisors
-- 1,500 signatures were collected on our Truth in Taxation petition in only two weeks
-- Nearly 10,000 Truth in Taxation flyers were distributed throughout the county, educating people about county government's obligation to lower the tax rate first - and then justify why any tax increases are necessary

The result: a 6¢ lower tax rate than without our efforts, resulting in a savings of nearly $10 million to county taxpayers! Our 2007 Truth in Taxation campaign shows what average citizens can accomplish.

What Happened After Last Year's Budget Season?

Quite a bit. The leaders of the 2007 Truth in Taxation movement began taking a hard look at the county budget. They began peeling back the layers of the budgeting process. What they found went far deeper than simply arguing for a reasonable tax rate.

ATTA is now registered with the Commonwealth of Virginia as a Political Action Committee (PAC).

Seeing the need for a permanent, non-partisan organization to act as a watch-dog over the county budgeting process, these citizens formed the Albemarle Truth in Taxation Alliance.

ATTA is here to stay -- working for all Albemarle County taxpayers.

* $60 saved for every $100,000 of assessed value

Cross-posted at

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