Editorial: When I was knocking doors during the campaign, I met a man who told me he was greatly concerned with his home being a target for ever-increasing property taxes. He said that he and his wife were fortunate enough to pay off their home mortgage about two years ago. He said he always knew the amount of his property taxes, but didn’t think about it much because they were a part of his mortgage payment. However, now that he doesn’t have a monthly mortgage payment, he now has to put over $400 per month in savings so that he can pay his property taxes at the end of the year! They live in south Tulsa, the highest taxed property in our state. He said he and his wife are not old enough to qualify for the senior citizen protection of freezing their property taxes, but are greatly concerned with the potential of increased burden of higher and higher property taxes!
I spoke with another couple who said when they purchased their home about 9 years ago, their property taxes were approximately $6,000 per year. Now, their property taxes are over $9,000, a 50% increase!!!
Currently it takes a supermajority for an increase on a school bond; however there is a strong effort underway to reduce that to a simple majority. One school superintendent is quoted in the Tulsa World; "For 15 years, I’ve lobbied the (state) Legislature regarding the supermajority for the fact that I believe it is very undemocratic,” and the school board president at the time is quoted; "I think it should be just a simple majority."
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Todd Hiett, told me there have been several attempts to reduce the supermajority, and the last time it was defeated by only one vote. He reminded me that originally, only property owners were allowed to vote in elections that would increase property taxes. That measure was determined to be unconstitutional and was replaced with the supermajority rule to help protect property owners.
There seems to be no satisfying the appetite of government for our money. As citizens, we are expected to submit to the whims of elected officials whenever they say they need more money. But where is the accountability??? Don’t label me “anti-education” just because I oppose property tax increases. Show me you have spent your current dollars prudently and that there is a genuine need for new money before you expect me to just fall in line.
I am currently working with Oklahoma Legislators to find a member who will author a bill to protect our homes and property. Not only do I want to keep the supermajority before we ever see an increase in property taxes, I say we must require a minimum turnout of 25% of the registered voters, within the district being taxed, for the vote to be validated. A school board cannot take any official actions without a quorum present. A city council cannot take any official action without a quorum being present. Our Oklahoma State Legislature cannot take any official action without a quorum being present. The Oklahoma State Legislature even requires a supermajority of their votes before they can pass a tax increase.
I realize we cannot make people vote. However, there is a strong practice of finding election dates that will likely produce a low voter turnout and then working hard to only get out those supporting the measure. This change will require those wanting the measure to truly inform the voters and educate them of the genuine need.
I am glad that we, as a state, have put in measures to protect senior citizens from ever-increasing property taxes.
I think it is now time to put in place measures to protect all of our homes and property from being the targets of hungry bureaucrats and elected officials. After all it is our home and our property.
Please contact your State Senator and State Representative and ask them to protect your property and support these requirements.
About the author:
Jeff Applekamp is an Oklahoma state licensed mortgage loan officer and a registered lobbyist, but most importantly, he is a conservative. A former candidate for the State Senate, Jeff Applekamp is committed to continue fighting for true conservative values to protect all Oklahomans.