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Revenue plan has flaws

The newly advertised and proposed real estate tax rate in Cumberland, combined with the proposed elimination of the forestland category of the land use taxation program, would bring an additional $900,000 into the county’s coffers, which seem to be drying up more and more as each budget is adopted.

If the rates and the proposed fiscal year 2016-17 budget are approved at the end of this month, the tax on land will increase by four pennies, the personal property tax on airplanes will increase to $1.50 per $100 of assessed value, utility rates on water and sewer will increase by about 15 percent, the tax rates on machinery and tools and heavy construction and machinery will drop to zero and the tax breaks on certain timberland and forest property will end.

It seems to us that the bad outweighs the good with this situation.

How does eliminating the tax on machinery help the landowner who has timberland enrolled in the land use program? Normally, a landowner hires a logger to come in and cut or thin the timber. There’s no doubt that the forest owner will pay a lot more — losing a tax break and seeing his taxes increase, while the logger will pay less on his equipment.

There’s no doubt that the tax on airplanes needs to be increased — that’s a no-brainer. But hitting those with forests by ending land use taxation and jacking up their real estate taxes seems like a very hard hit.

Before adopting the proposed rates and budget, supervisors should take a serious look at the impact the new proposed real estate rate and ditching the forestry portion of their land use tax will have on those who own timber and participate in the program.

As we suggested for Buckingham, supervisors should consider other revenue sources, such as a $10 monthly household solid waste fee, and more cuts in expenditures before balancing the budget on the backs of landowners.