Point-of-Sale Reform Bogs Down

January 21, 2010

Investigative Reports

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The NerveJane Page Thompson
Citizen Reporter

Wednesday’s debate in the Senate took point-of-sale bill 3272 from providing relief to all types of property owners and refocused it on benefitting commercial growth and second homeowners.

The shift in the focus prompted the Association of Realtors’ executive committee to call for equal and unilateral consideration.

In an early-morning meeting the association concluded that there will be no deal unless current homeowners receive relief similar to that being sought for commercial property owners.

The rally on the bill has come from residential agents seeking to help their primary dwelling property owners but got very little traction last spring. It was not until commercial brokers stepped up to defend point-of-sale reform that the senatorial tide of support began to flow for the bill.

With the sharp change in direction, some Realtors are having to explain to clients that what they thought would help may just be another incentive to commercial development and job growth and not what the average homeowner needs.

Earlier in the week, it appeared proponents of point-of-sale reform and representatives from local governments had found some middle ground. The sticking point, according to county assessors, had been the assessment caps.

With counties unable to raise revenue for their school budgets from property taxes – whose reassessment values would be capped under the reform at 15 percent – many believed there was a need to find ways to generate revenue through increased fees and fines.

Some counties have felt the pain of the economic downturn, with lower sales tax revenues and store closings marking losses in small business tax collection.

Passing on increased fees and fines in an already struggling economy might result in more losses than gains.