Saturday, January 15, 2011

We Voted with our Feet

For most of my adult life, I lived in same city and paid city taxes. When I was temporarily transferred, we sold our house. When we returned, we purchased a home outside of the city limits. Here were our reasons:
  • Increasing taxes and declining services - During the the 18 years that we owned a house, our property taxes increased six fold without any improvements in city or education services. Despite school enrollment declining, school tax levies were a regular ballot item. (I never did figure out why more money was needed to educate fewer students.) In addition, basic city services such as snow removal were reduced. For example, my street went from being plowed on the first day of snow to two to four days later.

  • Increasing crime - When I first moved here, most of the city was relatively safe including the inner city. However, the frequency of crime has increased in all city neighborhoods. Just before we moved out, our home someone kicked in our back door and stole our cash and jewelry. Recently, break ins in our previous neighborhood have occurred while the occupants were home.

  • Declining schools - Both my spouse and I had public school educations. We always planned to send our children to public school. With the exception of one magnet school, the city public schools had a poor reputation.
  • Our choice to move outside the city has been a good one. For about the same amount of property tax, we have better services, much less crime, and significantly better schools. For example, our streets our plowed within hours of the first snow and our high school is regularly included among the top schools nationally. In addition, our current municipality does not tax wage earnings.

    To me, me it's no surprise that the city population is declining, while the suburban population is growing. The city politicians just don't seem to get it. Like some others, the city is considering raising taxes to cover budget shortfalls and unfunded pension liabilities. I'm very glad we have already voted with our feet.

    For more on Reflections and Musings, check back every Saturday for a new segment.

    This is not financial, tax or policy advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

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