Like most hard-working Americans, I have a disdain for taxes or anything that takes more of my hard-earned money from me without my permission. This recent property tax hike in Madison County is no different. While it does not impact my wallet directly, it impacts my parents and other people who are close to me.
There are always rumors surrounding changes that involve money. One such misconception is, ‘Your property tax rate is doubling’, it’s not your total bill. The total bill is comprised of several different taxes: state real estate, county real estate, health, extension, ambulance and library. Only the county real estate tax rate is doubling. An article by LEX18 explained, “Madison County homeowners will pay a tax increase of 11.4 cents for every $100 of property owned. If your property in Madison County is worth $100,000, right now you pay about $82 a year in county real estate tax. This recent vote more than doubles your bill to $196 dollars a year.”
So while it is not as awful as the media may spin it to be, it still has a negative impact on the residents of Madison County.
The biggest surprise from the decision to raise the property tax is who voted for and against it. The two republican magistrates voted for the tax increase, Roger Barger and Tom Botkin. The one vote against the increase was from a democrat Larry Combs. Typically, it’s the other way around. The democrat votes for tax increases while the republican votes against it. So for me to see that a democrat voted against an increase in property taxes, I was shocked.
But why a tax increase in the first place? The property tax increase is just the result of a much bigger issue at hand here in Madison County. For years, Madison County has had an overcrowding problem at the Madison County Detention Center. As of September 2019, the detention center held 413 inmates, yet only had 184 beds. That’s nearly three times the capacity. In order to ‘fix’ this problem, Madison County has considered building a new jail facility; a new jail facility would cost around $45 million.
In an article by the Richmond Register, Madison County residents expressed their favoring of the extension of a new jail, but are not in favor of how the county is going to raise the money. Residents are hoping there is another option, and a cost effective way, to raise the money that is required.
An option that has been mentioned is to lease out an old armory in Madison County, renovate it to bring it up to code, and use that in place of a new jail. Regardless of the other options available, the county has decided that raising property taxes, not any of the other six taxes out there, is the best way to afford a brand new jail. The article by LEX18 quoted Judge Executive Reagan Taylor as saying he does not like the tax increase either, but he wants to fix the overcrowding problem.
While I agree with Judge Taylor’s sentiments, I don’t agree that increasing taxes is the most cost effective way possible. As soon as the raise was passed 4-1, a petition was created. What the most cost effective way could be, I’m not sure. But raising taxes isn’t effective, as it gets people to petition against it. Chances are the county will have to find another way to fund the new jail if the petition gets enough signatures to shoot the increase down.