Monday, May 14, 2007

An Indecent Proposal

Saturday night found me, the husband and maybe one-third of the parents at the kids’ school dressed up for the annual pocket-picking fundraiser. Pete and I have always managed to find a reason not to go, but we were browbeaten into going by an F&B friend/fellow parent. [I mentioned the class project brouhaha about a week ago.]

I went. I drank too much red wine. We spent too much. [Buying, interestingly enough, one of the two infamous, radical hippie pictures with my daughter in it.]

I think the goal was to raise something like $90,000 at the Spring Fling. Yeah, not a typo. $90,000. For a public school. And this represents maybe, what, 30% or 40% of the entire PTA budget.

Money which manages to get spent on things that I’m in support of, overall. Are there some budget items which I think should be eliminated? Sure. There are some budget items in my household budget which I think should be eliminated. But we do things – as families, as community groups, as communities – which not everyone agrees to but enough people do so that, if you’re not arguing and winning your case, swaying others to your side, you just have to shut up about it and go along. Or whine and protest so much that you become akin to the annoying little mosquito ring tone that old folks can’t hear. People start to avoid talking to you because, you know, you’re a one-hit wonder.

Any-hoo. I have a proposal to make for the next go-round. Actually, I have several, but one is going to have to be saved for the other blog. I’ll share one now. And maybe the third – I did say “several,” right? – I’ll share another time.

I live in the grand ole state of California. We’re the ones with Prop 13. Prop 13 basically says you can’t jack up the property taxes of individual homeowners willy-nilly. Once you’re in the house – whenever you bought it – your property tax only increases a "miniscule" amount each year. That’s to let the poor little old people pay taxes on what they paid for the house, not the out-of-control amount that the house is worth today. But whenever a house changes hands, and the new owner buys it at that you-want-want-for-that-shack price, she/he pays taxes at the new rate.

Oh, you 2.2-second visitors, I lost you when I started talking math-like, didn’t I? Here’s what Prop 13 means:

Mr. and Mrs. Potter bought their home five years ago, paying $500,000 for it and starting with property taxes at $5,000 per year. Their home is now worth $750,000 and their property tax is $5,250 per year.

Mr. and Mrs. Weasley bought their home last month, paying $750,000 for it and starting with property taxes at $7,500 per year.

The Potters are paying $2,250 more in property taxes per year than the Weasleys. Don’t the Weasleys feel righteous? Sure, until they realize the Dumbledores, who bought their home 15 years ago, are only paying $2,250 in property taxes each year.

There’s also a great clause that lets a mother or father sell the house to a daughter or son and transfer the property tax level. So Dumbledore Jr. buys out Dumbledore Sr. and gets to keep the tax level at $2,250.

Oh, the burdens of a California lifestyle, eh? All right, no sympathy for any of us. I get that. But here’s my indecent proposal: next year, at leeching fundraising time, I propose we all bring our property tax bills with us. And those of us who are already paying our fair share – the Potters and the Weasleys – we get a free ride. The Dumbledores – especially the family of Dumbledore Jr. – have to buy a whole lot more at the auction than I do. I’ll get a bumper sticker that says, “I paid at the tax window.”

1 comment:

jenica said...

i love your proposal! i can't stop giggling. loving your blog

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