Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Well, Duh, is the only response I have to this Washington Post story Property Owners' Burden Rising, which reports that local homeowner's share of the cost of local government is rising as a result of increased property assessments and the taxes that are based on those assessments.

That's front page material? I don't mean to be snide, but my 4th grade daughter understands the concept... it's basic math. Anytime you have an equation where one component of a total jumps relative to other components, then that component makes up a larger share of the total. And when spending equals total tax collections, a relative increase in one component of tax collections will correlate to an increase in the percentage of spending covered by that component.

To illustrate, Fairfax County finances can be portrayed by the equation P(property taxes) + O(other taxes and receipts = T(total receipts) = S(spending). In this equation, increases in tax receipts are matched by a immediate and corresponding increase in spending. Increases in P relative to O will necessarily result in P becoming a larger component of S.

According to Fairfax County information, property taxes jumped from $1.1 Billion in 2001 to $1.9 Billion in 2006 (anticipated collections) - a 73% increase, which far outpaces growth in tax receipts from other sources.... which leaves us with the result that homeowners are paying a larger share of Fairfax County spending. As I said, Duh.

That is so Duh that I can't believe the reporter and editor felt the need to explain basic math to us.... so there must be another reason why they thought this story was worth running, and on the front page to boot.

It can't be because the Post feels Fairfax County is spending too much money (there's a electrode implanted in the brains of all liberals which subjects them to excruciating pain if they ever start to think like that). It can't be because the Post feels that taxes for Fairfax County residents are too high (the same electrode takes care of these thoughts as well).

Maybe it's simply that the Post feels the other contributors to Fairfax County spending aren't keeping pace, that these taxes should be raised commensurate with the tax increases imposed on homeowners. If so, then Fairfax County would get more money to spend (good for liberals). Or maybe it's simply that they don't teach math to journalism students...