Property tax will change in Riley plan

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 30, 2003

ORANGE BEACH &045;&045; Gov. Bob Riley admitted over the weekend that his tax package is a difficult one to understand. He also charged the media with the responsibility of educating the public about his sweeping tax reform package, which goes before the public in a Sept. 9 referendum.

When asked by The Demopolis Times about educating the public, he said that would be a difficult task.

Though he gave few specifics about how to better explain his lengthy proposal, he answered another pointed question dealing directly with Alabama’s Black Belt.

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According to surveys released over the past month, pollsters have found that Riley’s package has the least amount of support among the black community. When asked how Riley would counteract that trend, he answered more philosophically.

While blacks may not support the tax package en masse right now, Riley is concerned about another group of people who apparently don’t like the tax package.

Much of West Alabama &045;&045; in particular, the poorer areas &045;&045; don’t plan to support the tax referendum. However, those people may be the only ones who actually benefit from the tax plan.

There is proof that what Riley said this weekend is true. The Governor’s Web site has a tax calculator that shows the increase (or decrease) in taxes for citizens if the tax plan passes.

In terms of property tax, a family that lives in a home worth $30,000 currently pays $72 in annual property tax on that home. If Riley’s tax passes, that amount will not change.

For a family that lives in a home worth $50,000, annual property tax on that home actually will decrease from $150.50 a year to $144 a year.

As home values increase, though, property taxes also increase. A family living in a home worth $100,000 currently pays $363 in annual property tax in Marengo County. If the plan passes, that tax will increase to $499 a year.

And for a family living in a home valued at $200,000, the annual tax will increase from $788 a year to $1,209 a year.