Friday, February 19, 2010

An objective approach to cap spending

County Budget Index ... an objective approach to cap spending
By Keith C. Drake, Ph.D., Chairman
Albemarle Truth in Taxation Alliance

As early as 2005, I proposed the county adopt a cap to the rate of tax revenue growth it imposes on citizens. A "County Budget Index" would be based on a fair combination of population growth, school enrollment growth, and inflation.

The Index could also include costs over which the county clearly has no control, e.g., complying with State and Federal regulatory requirements. It might include an additional, modest increase - on the order of one percent - to allow for improvements in existing programs such as teacher retention.

This Index would provide an objective formula to define precisely the total county budget. After factoring out other sources of revenue, the amount of revenue from real estate assessments would then define the tax rate. Such an index would be an objective measure to help separate "wants" from "needs."

ATTA recommends using the zero-based budget being considered by the Board of Supervisors as a starting point. A validated "needs-based" budget ensures future tax increases allowed by the Index are truly justified.
Albemarle Truth in Taxation Alliance (ATTA) is a non-partisan group of citizen volunteers from all socio-economic groups and political affiliations. We are dedicated to ensuring effective and efficient use of our tax dollars by Albemarle government and to protecting the rights and interests of Albemarle taxpayers.

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