There are property taxpayers in each jurisdiction who stand to bear a significant tax increase if an extravagant local government ballot proposal passes. Within that group there is a smaller group that is immune from any persecution local government agencies and their proponent friends may try to mete out. This group is “golden” to your cause. But how do you find them?
You can first secure the list of the larger group by placing a public records request of your county Appraisal District or County Assessor’s office and ask for a data export of all commercial, multi-unit housing and agricultural parcels located in the school, city, county, etc. (If you need help writing a public records request, see our link here. Such a request is much easier to write than you might think and Copperhead provides some sample letters (drafted from much experience) and also a link to reporter’s professional site where you can search the basic law on public records for your state at this link of ours.) A key aspect of the request is to ask for “All” fields of data (Parcel ID number, legal description, mailing address, every last field – even if they whine about it) tied to each parcel record, else they deny you some valuable information. As well, you do not want this report as a print-out, but in digital form.
Such exports from their database, with no filtering involved when you ask for ‘All’ fields, takes very little time to execute and burn onto a CD and hand it to you or send via email through an FTP large file server. I don’t recall a client paying over $50 for such a file. This government office needs to keep a mailing address for each parcel holder as well. This will give you the address where to send your solicitation letter. Many states forbid such appraisal/assessment records to be used for commercial purposes (advertising a good or service). But we have found them to be clear for political purposes. After sorting out the ‘big box’ companies you can target a list of 200 to 300 businesses with the largest property valuations who might be willing recipients of your letter.
In a spreadsheet, you can then apply the levy/millage rate increase for the local government’s proposed new spending program to each property owner’s valuation (adjusted by any state class rate adjustments, rollbacks, etc.). From this you can produce a close estimate of the annual tax increase they are facing if the proposal passes and their total new tax cost over the life of the proposal. (I.e. Four to 7 years on a new levy or 20 to 30 years on a new bond.)
This total new taxes amount can then be mail-merged into the Subject line of an introductory letter that you send to your target list. It can look something like this –
“RE: The $123,500 estimated tax increase you face if the county’s spending proposal passes at the ballot box!”
The local committee members can then follow up with a phone call about a week after the letters went out and begin to sort through the various degrees of interest in your general opposition plan. From these calls, you will start to find your core support of those who will come to a private meeting to listen to your group’s more detailed plan of political attack to oppose the proposal. A businessperson who is facing $6,200, for example, of new taxes each year for the next 20 years in this economy is likely going to fund it right out of their profits. As a result, they will often not be shy about writing out a $2,500 check to support your committee’s campaign. Better, then he’ll go recruit his friends to do likewise.
Yes, many are nervous about publicly donating to an opposition effort in their local market. But such “nervousness” is eroding fast with the explosion of the costs of local government and how it is showing up on the property tax statements of small and mid-sized businesses. I’ve had one campaign where a local franchise owner of a national restaurant chain helped fund our efforts and recruited his compete-tors to help out as well. This group can soon form the core of your growing resistance movement. This a proven successful way to generate the cash your committee needs to execute their campaign strategy.
If you want help with this in your community contact us Here.