By now, most of us are aware of the story out of Obion, Tennessee where the firefighters watched as the family home, 3 dogs and a cat burned.
The family had a choice, pay a “subscription fee” of $75.00 per year or do without fire protection. In this sense, taxes for firefighting were made voluntary. Their taxes were lowered. And they, and their pets, paid a dear price for their choice to forego fire protection. One can only imagine the horror had people been in the house while the firefighters stood by, ready to protect…the neighbor’s property should the fire spread to the lands of someone who paid the $75.00!
But let’s take a closer look at that $75.00 voluntary fee for firefighting services. Apparently, the entire county could be covered for a 0.13% increase in their property taxes. That means, for houses valued less than about $57,000, they would be paying less than $75.00 per year, while those whose houses were valued at more than $57,000, would pay more.
So, what’s the median house prices in Obion, Tennessee, you ask?
I’m glad you asked:
As the chart shows, the current median price of homes in Obion is about $10,000 more than the $57,000 break-even point on the “subscription fee.” But this shows that roughly half the homeowners in the county pay too much for fire protection, while those with pricier homes get a break.
The High Price of Low Taxes.
This worked so well, the powers that be want to expand the program. It’s a good deal for the folks with the more expensive homes. For the poor, not so good a deal. Left out of MainStreamMedia stories is how this “subscription service” is made available to renters, if at all. For all we know, they’re at the mercy of their landlords.
But there is one other thing we know: this time, the price was furnishings and pets. This time. Next time, it could well be someone’s children, wife, husband, father or mother.
Perhaps the firefighters could be equiped with violins, so they could at least fiddle while they watch houses burn.