Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, photo from Wikimedia Commons.
There has been buzz over the past several months in NoMi that we are paying more than our fair share in property taxes (Ed Kohler of The Deets brought the issue up in late September, an email made its way around some neighborhood listservs, which led to a post on JNS about a potential lawsuit). As property tax assessments have been arriving in the mail, the Minneapolis Issues Forum has had many postings on what this means, and even the Irving Inquisition dedicated a jerk du jour designation to this. Well today Steve Brandt at the Strib broke the story of a lawsuit being filed that specifically makes that allegation. (I hope to post as much of the lawsuit documents as possible here for NXNS readers.)
If these claims are found to have merit, they have the potential to shake the very foundations of not just city and neighborhood finances (that's obvious), but also perceptions of north Minneapolis. How often to fellow NoMi residents hear the refrain that the rest of the city pays for all the services that north uses up? Well, what if it's actually the opposite? Could it be possible that the poorest of all parts of the city are paying our way, or even propping up other parts of town? Allegedly, many in NoMi are paying a rate based on a value estimate as high as 300% of the most recent purchase price.
In some ways, I do feel bad for the city. After all, it's not like they're swimming in money. And with the threat of even more LGA cuts looming, things won't be getting better anytime soon. The money's got to come from somewhere.
But even before I can rationalize a counter-argument that's not sympathetic at all, various city and state employees do a fine job of getting rid of my sympathy on their own. I'm especially incensed at the state assessors, who refute the notion that the recent sales are accurate indicators of market value. Essentially, their argument as described in the Strib, is this: Since a lot of banks sold houses for perhaps less than they could have, that means that assessors can use a dollar amount other than sales prices as a way to determine market value. Like what? Really, what else besides recent sales is used to determine value?
Perhaps the state assessors John Hagen and Lloyd McCormick could explain to me why my Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds baseball cards aren't selling for squat on eBay. True, the steroids scandals have made it clear that their statistical achievements were fraudulently inflated. But I keep on thinking there's got to be a good way to calculate the market value of those cards...you know, some way OTHER than how much somebody might be willing to pay me for them. Because that doesn't get me much money AT ALL.