FREEDOM WORKS


I am a volunteer and the spokesman for Orange County FreedomWorks.  I was contacted by a citizen concerned about inaccuracies on this site about Tax Revolt and FreedomWorks.  I thought it might be a good idea to attempt to correct some of the inaccuracies by providing information.

FreedomWorks is a national, state, and local organization made up of grassroots activists.  FreedomWorks is a non-partisan organization with members from all political parties.  Unlike what was said in a recent Carrboro newspaper editorial, FreedomWorks is not “a GOP effort to recruit new members to the party”. North Carolina has the largest and most active state chapter with more than 32,000 members across the state.  Along with tax and budget issues, North Carolina FreedomWorks members are extremely engaged in private property rights issues.  Our members are working against forced annexation and the use of eminent domain.  An example of one of our NC FW issues:  NC FW opposed the United State’s Navy’s plan to build an OLF (Outlying Landing Field) at Site C in Washington and Beaufort counties.

Orange County has an active FreedomWorks chapter.
Orange County FreedomWorks began as Orange County CSE (Citizens For A Sound Economy).  After the merger of CSE and Empower America, the new group chose the name FreedomWorks so Orange County CSE became Orange County FreedomWorks.  Over the years, OC FW has been very active.  A few of our projects:  Opposed System-Wide School Merger, Supported District Representation for the Orange County BoCC, Opposed the Land Transfer Tax. Several years ago, OC FW was awarded a FW Most Active Chapter Award.

For all of our projects, including Orange Tax Revolt, funding comes from here in Orange County.  Money is donated here to be used on the specific project then spent on that project.  We have never used funding from outside Orange County for OC FW projects.

How did OC FW become involved in this project?  Members of OC FW began receiving calls asking us to help organize a group and movement of citizens concerned about their recent revaluations and the upcoming setting of a new tax rate.  A few OC FW members met with those citizens who had contacted us to ask for our help.  At an organizational small group meeting including a couple OC FW members and several OC citizens, OC Tax Revolt was formed.  

It concerns me deeply that there are those who continue to claim that OC Tax Revolt is about an “outside national group using local folk to forward their agenda”.  This is entirely a citizen led venture.  FreedomWorks members working on OC Tax Revolt live here in Orange County.  FreedomWorks is not “using” Tax Revolt to discuss any of our other issues.  Contact information is being gathered – but only so that Tax Revolt can stay in contact with interested citizens.

Issues: 

Total votes: 246

Comments

I believe the national group had a convention in 2008.  Did you attend?   All of the conference materials- including workshop information about how to build grassroots movements- seem to have disappeared from the internet. (The conference site is gone). For those of us who would like to understand the national/local relationship a little more clearly- does anyone know if the conference information exists online?  I'll admit I haven't dug into the wayback machine, but I guess I'll try. (Also, to say that the national group is not about rebuilding the Republican party is more than a little disingenuous-- even though you'd like for folks to think otherwise.) 

I think lots of people are getting hung up and reading way to much into all this beyond the basic LOCAL property tax issue. I
wouldn't get hung up on this organization. I bet if you surveyed all
the people at the commissioner's meetings and the actual tax revolt
meeting most of the people would not have the slightest idea who this
organization is. These people are concerned about the astronimical
growth in there tax rates over the years and what it will do to their
current and future ability to pay. I truly believe this is a local
movement about a local issue and the majority ot the people could care
less about the other stuff conservative or liberal.

There is a good point about probable disinterest in the national organization.  My concern in this is that this outside organization is going to sweep in, fan the flames, and take credit for a 'revolt' that has nothing to do with people's actual concerns, not unlike the disgusting behavior by the NCAR and NCHBA during the transfer tax revolt.  Concerns about changing tax valuations are legitimate.  Utilizing these concerned citizens to claim support for what would otherwise be an astroturf organization in Orange County is out of line.  I feel like what could be a positive, educational conversation about revenues connection to services is being hijacked by a small, vocal group who are trying to misrepresent the public's questions and concerns as an uprising, and are clouding what could otherwise be a useful dialog.

There's nothing progressive about this group.  Why is OP giving it an opportunity to sound like a legit community organizing organization?  Ruby has run off folks from here for a lot less.  Why is this allowed to be posted?

It has never been against the rules to post bad ideas on OP. (You'll note that this post was not promoted to the front page, though.) One could argue about the veracity of Roy's claims, but I don't have the time to research them, personally. There are three things you can do about posts you don't like:

  • Give the post only one star to show your disagreement. Ratings are aggregated on the left sidebar of the front page.
  • Argue against their points in the comments to show they are wrong.
  • Ignore the post so that it stops showing up under "hot topics" on the front page.

It would be informative if you shared some info about the local leaders. Orange County has a well-documented progressive tradition that has done much work for local freedom. It would be persuasive if we saw some names of known local progressive activists among this group's leadership.

When it comes to tax revolt issues, perhaps there's an alternative other than Republican?  And the source of direct funding is only one question, especially when it comes to "grassroots" organizing and activism.

I'm sorry, but saying that FreedomWorks does not promote a Republican agenda is not being honest. On the main webpage (www.freedomworks.org) asks people to donate to "take on" MoveOn.org. MoveOn is clearly a Democratic leaning organization and I highly doubt that another organization would want to take on an organization unless they differ idelogically. A progressive organization is simply not going to "take on" another progressive organization.

In addition to the other criticisms of the FreedomWorks group that have been posted here I wanted to add a more general, philosophical comment about the basic idea that the group uses, and proclaims in its banner: the idea that lower taxes and less government means more freedom. This is the simplistic view of freedom that fuels the rhetoric of both conservatism and libertarianism. This way of thinking simply equates freedom with the weakness of the public sector, making the proclamation in the banner a useless tautology. Liberals and progressives, in my view, need to articulate the greater complexity of real freedom, which is essentially the ability of individuals to control the circumstances of their own lives, given a variety of good options and opportunities. There are many ways government and public spending help to increase freedom as understood in this way. One excellent example: the civil rights acts. There were those who opposed it on the grounds that, irrespective of issues about race, it is wrong for the government to intervene in the private sector by telling business owners that they are not allowed to decide for themselves who is to be accepted or excluded as customers. But clearly this "government intervention" into the "free market" greatly expanded the freedom of African-Americans to go where they wish and do what they want. By the way, a glance at the FreedomWorks website reveals that the group is being led by Dick Armey and Steve Forbes.James Coley

I'll add that in community organizing training from the IAF (founded by Saul Alinsky), they like to point out that society can be broken into 3 segments -- government, corporate, and community.  There are clear ways that governments and corporations can exercise power, but what we often lack is organization that can wield power for the community.    The extension of this model that Freedom Works appears to ignore is that today's society has an overbalance of corporate power that we NEED government to counteract at the moment.  This isn't a bad use of government power (given the unethical behavior of corporate America).

Absolutely, James, and then there is the freedom that comes from having public transportation, public streets, public sidewalks, public safety, public trash collection, public internet access, public computers, public libraries, and public schools (and on and on and on).  And none of that happens without government - or without taxes.

Hope this didn't get submitted twice. I don't believethe majority of the people concerned about there
property taxes have a problem with the public good. From what I see
most of these people have religously paid there taxes all there lives.
There is a point where the tax becomes excessive and starts to affect
the people paying the very tax  that contributes to the common good .
Orange County has reached that point. This thread has really focused
away from the problem. People are simply scared stiff about the
astronomical growth rate in there property tax and are very concerned
about ther ability to pay both now and in the future.Politics are not the issue.
The solution is multi thronged. Let's readdress the transfer tax,
increase impact fees, look at sales tax options, commercial growth and
investigate county income tax but let's stop relying on the property
tax for growth and spread the burden out. Spreading the burden gives a
more fair, controllable way to pay for the common good. The system is
completely out of control.

I would hope you as someone that can influence the system would have
more sympathy for your constiuents, many of the very people that are
concerned and participating in this movement. At the last BOCC I heard
a Carrboro citizen that has lived here all his life and started paying
less than $200 in property tax on purchasing his property years ago and
is now paying 14000 soon to be 20000 with the revaluation. How can you
justify driving this person out of Carrboro because he can't pay his
taxes or can't pass his property to his children because they can never pay this tax?? It's unfair and  can't be justified. Just out of curiousity how
much is yours going up??How about trying to go to some of these meetings and here the real stories??

Thx
  

A Libertarian friend and I once decided that we were at such extremes of the American political continuum that on some points we met each other coming the other way.  But at some point, maximized individual freedom and minimized government approaches anarchy, which is where we diverged.

Who paid for the robo call that we got a little after 7pm this evening about the next "revolt" meeting?  Is this all "local" money of is it from other "interest" like an “outside national group using local folk to forward their agenda?"

Maybe you ought to attend some of these meetings and BOCC meetings and hear some of the real stories. I truly believe this is a local issue whose participants have one agenda. Concern over the astronical growth in there property taxes and there ability to pay for that growth. Thx

the question.  Of course some of these real stories are painful and I have been to meetings and heard them, but I asked something different.It's somewhat naive to claim that "participants have one agenda." Who paid for the robocalls?

I hope this didn't get submitted twice. It seems to remember my uid on some machines but have to log in every time on others. To tell you the truth I could care less and am glad they called me
to remind me of the meeting. I have nothing to do with this
organization nor do I want to have anything to do with this
organization. I am not going to let the factthat they are interested in
this problem defer my right to protest something I think is unjust and
could potentially gentrify me from my home. I really do  believe this
is a major local issue for all citizens of orange county paying this
tax.Again this is a local issue with local citizens valid
concerns. The freedom Works thing is just a side track to divert your
attention elsewhere other than the real problem. Again go to the
meeting and hear some of the real stories form citizens of Orange
county from all walks of lives. Thx

It is ALL local money.

Since you say the money & the people are all local - and its a local issue, then why isn't it just a local group with its own local identity? I don't understand why the national group is even involved.

When PeTA comes in to protest animal testing, do they not bring 'support' from outside, even though the issue is clearly local in nature?As a non-progressive person, I do not have the benefit of understanding the context difference.  Why is it so distasteful for a local grassroots effort, of any kind, to employ logistical or other assistance from other like-minded groups?Is it because of the message a successful tax policy challenge would send?  On the political map, here we have an almost Dook-blue splot in the middle of an otherwise red zone.  If such a 'revolt' takes hold here, it could happen anywhere, and pose a certain challenge to the redistributionists' higher goals.  Is that it?

First, as has been explored in more than one thread here, the problem for OC is that those whose agenda is to foment a tax revolt against use of OC tax money have succeeded in muddying or even eclipsing the original problem, which was simply the process that precedes calculation of tax rates.   It's so obvious that I feel a little simpleminded even pointing it out, but the goal behind that agenda is to affect upcoming elections - beginning with local but with larger battles in mind. The issue of opportunity is money, and the Orange County property tax fracas is the episode of local opportunity. The point is, "outsiders" are finally more interested in the larger battles than they are in Orange County.  Tip O'Neill was right that "all politics is local" insofar as control of enough local elections can ensure state and national control. Count on a crescendo of howls over the next 3 1/2 years, holding Democrats, liberals, and/or Progressives responsible for our economic woes by dint of taxation - muddying and eclipsing the true causes of the "Crash" but tapping into anger over bail-out fund abuses and tight personal finances. Meanwhile, conservative cynicism over "grassroots" mobilizations like moveon.com has magically become imitation and appropriation of similarly populist strategies - albeit less locally spontaneous - to recover lost power.  The somewhat illogical appearance of anti-airport placards at polling places last November will be nothing compared to what we'll see in the future, and not just in OC. The words "Tax Revolt" will be the ubiquitous rallying cry of people claiming no political alignment -- but who, I guarantee, will not be supporting Progressives or liberals. The cost of that will be that many serious issues that need to be put before the electorate will be obscured by simplistic and single-minded arguments against taxation in nearly any form - not unlike some other single-issue strategies in key state elections around the country and probably even more compelling.

Gee I wasn't aware it was OC tax money. I thought it was Orange County citizens tax money. The attitude that this money is the county's birthright no what kind of affect it has on the citizens providing that money and that money is unlimites source is one of the reasons we are in this situation. Thx

There's nothing wrong with political alliances and utilizing organizations that are already in place. Just tell us who the people are and what the overall goals are - from local to national. With accurate information, we can then decide for ourselves.  

I went to the 'tax revolt' meeting tonight.  Apart from about 30 stock 'tax reform now' placards bearing the 'freedomworks' website URL, and two or three persons wearing tee shirts with a logo, no presence of anything other than a local, grassroots organization was obvious.  No speakers from anywhere else spoke, no information about any external group was distributed and no announcements were made about anything other than working with regular folks from right here in Orange County.I hope that this message settles the issue permanently for those who feel there's some 'mass incursion of sinister forces' into what is a local issue.  There simply isn't any.  Tonight's meeting was just a gathering of 1100 fellow citizens who feel they can't trust their elected officials, representatives who by the way yet again could not be bothered to show up.  This absence sent a very loud message of contempt to a crowd whose motives are simple, genuine, and principled.

Actually, the signs said "Tax Relief Now".

That doesn't mean that FreedomWorks won't continue to use the "Orange Tax Revolt" as part of their national campaign to spread "teabagging" to the masses.  (Has anyone actually googled that term?)   Whichever local person opened the door and invited these guys in has created a permanent association with FreedomWorks.You're their poster children. Deal with it.Many of us would take you more seriously if you'd completely denounce them.But you don't.  

1.  I don't really see how I'm part of an organization that I have no association with.  I've never met anyone from Freedom Works, never signed a membership card, never sent them any money.  No one else I know has, either. 2.  I don't owe it to you to denounce anything or anyone, frankly; who in hell do you think you are? 3.  Why do you think I want you to take *me* seriously?  I am merely reporting what happened at a public meeting on County tax policy that you apparently couldn't be bothered to go to yourself.  4.  Who are "many of us?"  Is there a secret society that meets to discuss my postings here on OP, of which you are a representative? Let's go over what's happening, in simple terms: My property taxes are too high and have been going up at a compound rate, higher than inflation, for two decades. The limited services I get from the County are poor. The County Commissioners, none of whom I have voted for, do not represent my views on the matter.  I have stumbled upon other people who think the same things I do, and now I am meeting with them to help amass political capital and foment change.  I believe this is called 'democracy' or something like that.  If successful, my taxes might go down, or at least, not go up as fast in the future.  That is what I want.If you're making more of any of this than what it appears to be, I cannot help you.  You can read others' accounts of tonight's "tax revolt" meeting elsewhere if you feel my reporting is erroneous. 

Again your focusing on the wrong issue. Freedom Works is a minor side issue that you are obsessing on. If freedom Works is so strongly influencing this movement, why are the tax revolt people asking for contributions. i didn't here one reference to this hidden republican agenda you are obsessing about at the meeting last night. All I heard was talk about a local issue that is frankly scaring a lot of people - The ability to afford to live in their homes. I talked with some of the people surrounding me and frankly they had never of freedom Works and were there for one reason their exorbitant property taxes. Not sure why everyone is so against rescinding the revaluation and going with a revenue neutral rate. That means everyone's taxes goes up by 0% this year. All the common good gets served here and seems like a no brainer. The county gets the same amount of money they got last year and we buy some time to solve the problem and our taxes don't go up.Thx

is that revaluation is intended to more fairly spread taxes to those whose values are higher.   By your simple solution, you have made more than half the county pay higher taxes than they would under the revaluation (does anyone know the actual percentages of homes that went up more than the average?), while giving a break to others who have the advantage of seeing better increases in their value lately. How is that helpful?   There's NO change to the overall pie from revaluation.  It only determines who pays what share.  Your proposal is no more fair than keeping the revaluation.

Given the economic situation there is a lot of data that suggests that these valuations are way off and the valuations are way overblown. if they wait until there is more data then they can more accurately reflect the true values of real estate. Given all that I believe this system is broken. I don't think it is fair for the amount you pay to be solely determined by the value of your house. There should be some kind of controls that do not allow runaway property tax increase like we have now. Where is it written in stone that the amount you pay has to be solelydependent on the value of your house.I believe in the common good to a point and we are way past that point.Thjat's what brought on prop 13 in CA. There should be other sources of revenue such as transfer tax, higher impact fees (more burden on the people causing the growth), budget control and maybe even income tax to help spread the burden. Why should someone on a fixed income who has lived in their home be gentrified from it by runaway property tax growth. Thx

Jcb is correct.  The purpose of revaluation is to spread the tax burden to reflect relative values.  Based upon newspaper reports the average valuation increase countywide is 24% and the average valuation increase of prooerty located in the Chapel Hill school district is 29%.  Since approximately 68% of the taxable valuation is located in the Chapel Hill school district, the average valuation increase for property located in the Orange County school district is 13.75%.  Accordingly, the average Chapel Hill resident will pay more in property taxes under the new values  and the average resident outside the Chapel Hill school district will pay less.  For example, a property located in Chapel Hill with a 2008 valuation of $200,000 that increases by the 29% average will have a new valuation in 2009 of $229,000.  A property located in Efland with a 2008 valuation that increases by the 13.75% average will have a new valuation in 2009 of $213,750.  Applying the tax nuetral rate of .008048 to the new valuations means that the Chapel Hill property will pay $165 more in property taxes in 2009 and the Efland property will pay $80 less in property taxes in 2009.  The overall shift in the tax burden to property in the Chapel Hill school district from property in the Orange County school district is $3.5 million. 

Therefore many of the people at these tax protest meetings are likely arguing against their self interest by advocating a return to the prior valuations.

I look around the valuations in my neighborhodd (rural orange) and most of the values far exceed the average and are seeing increases in high 20's to low 30's. Land values high 30's to high 40's. Even though we drive our pickups we do understand what this valuation + history is doing to the exorbitant growth of our property taxes. It is a system out of control and threatens to affect adversely many property owners ability to pay both in Chapel Hill and rural orange.Thx 

According to the Orange County staff as presented at the Commissioners' meeting last evening, 54% of properties are revalued at an increase of less than 24% with 46% of properties revalued at an increase of greater than 24%.  If you believe your property is overvalued, the appeals process is available. What I was originally attempting to point out is the intellectual dishonesty of the FreedomWorks/Tax Revolt meetings.  Clearly the complaint of this group is high spending by the Commissioners with the corresponding high property taxes required.  If so, the spending issue should be addressed directly and include specific areas of spending which should be cut.

An example A $200000 house at .998 would pay 1996 if increase at average 22% they pay 1995 (244000 value at .818) a decrease of $1. The problem is next year when it goes up by 5% to 10% then it would be off the revalued house at 244000 instead of 200000 making there tax go up higher than if the revaluation is rescinded. A 400000 at .998 would pay  $3992 if value goes up by 28% then 512000 at .818 is $4188 a 196 increase now carry it in to the future and this 196 gets compounded by the 5-10% next year and every year after that. This is the crux of the problem the compounded growth is way out of hand. The system is broken especially for retirees that have a lifetime investment and now are on fixed income.  Thx    

"A $200,000 house at .998 would pay 1996 if increase at average 22% they pay 1995 (244000 value at .818) a decrease of $1. The problem is next year when it goes up by 5% to 10% then it would be off the revalued house at 244000 instead of 200000 making there tax go up higher than if the revaluation is rescinded."

This is not correct.  In fact the tax increase would be the same under either

valuation. 

A 5% increase at the old rate would be 1.0479.  (1.05x.998)

A 5% increase at the new rate would be .88589  (1.05x.818)

$200,000x1.0479=2096

$244,000x.8589=2096

Either scenario yields the same $100 increase in taxes in the next year.

 

OOPS your right I was assuming a 5 cent increase (to hasty with my SS) for both scenarios. We can hammer out examples till the cows come home. The problem  is still that our taxes are growing exorbitantly with these revaluations combined with regular yearly increases and the compounding that occurs compared to income growth especially for fixed income or soon to be retirees. These increases are simply not sustainable to the average OC citizen.Hey in matter of a week our REVENUE NEUTRAl rate went from .812 to .86. That's pretty magical Thx 

I haven't done the math, but if you're talking about a 5% increase in total taxes, the increase for the 22% house should be the same whether revaluation occurred or not.  They paid $1995 of OC's total tax in either case, so 5% more would be the same.   There is no compounding because of the revaluation -- THE REV-NEUTRAL RATE GOES DOWN AS MUCH AS THE VALUE GOES UP, so the delta is SOLELY because the overall tax burden in OC has been going up so far (for an average house).

I believe the average overall increase is 22% and 1.29 times 200000 is 258000. See my example below you have to not only look at this year but future years the revaluation increases EVERYONE's taxes in future years compared to if no revaluation and those increase get compunded every year. Thx 

Revaluation has nothing whatever to do with the total amount of property taxes levied by the county. It only has to do with how it is parceled out for payment. After any reappraisal, if your value goes up higher than the average increase, you pay more, if it goes up less than the average you pay less, whatever the tax rate is.

Strings of mathematical calculations do not change that fact.

It is certainly valid to object to the total amount of property taxes levied, the tax rate, to whether the revaluation accurately reflects market value, or to suggest alternative revenue sources.

I repeat:

Revaluation has nothing whatever to do with the total amount of property taxes levied by the county. It only has to do with how it is parceled out for payment.

Why do you insist on inserting facts into the discussion?  Don't you know this is about truthiness?

"Revaluation has nothing whatever to do with the total amount of
property taxes levied by the county. It only has to do with how it is
parceled out for payment."I really do think everyone understands that. The problem is that people are concerned about there ability to pay their exorbitantly increasing share of the pie given the huge increases in valuation combined with the regular yearly increases and the compunding that occurs.Boy was I surprised after coming back from out of town that my REVENUE NEUTRAL  property tax rate increase almost doubled from 5.7% the .812 revenue neutral rate) to 11.2% (the new .86 revenue neutral rate). This is getting ridiculous and is not sustainable to the average OC citizen.Thx  

Just got back from Home Depot/Farmer's Market  in Hillsborough. This group is out in force today working the parking lots of Home Depot and Wal-Mart.  Lots of conversations about the new valuations.   Interesting morning.

 I would ilke to point out some other ramifications that a tax revaluation has, beyond simply property taxes.  First of all, it impacts how your children's applications for college loans and other student aid is reviewed.   It's not just your income that is important, it is the value of any assets you have that is considered , and the assessed tax value of your house is pretty important in those financial aid calculations.  It can also impact the interest rate on student loans.  So if the assessed value is too high, you have a lot of hoops to jump through to prove that the valuation was wrong.   Second, if you are struggling to pay your bills for whatever reason---maybe you have lost a job or your salary is cut---the equity in your house can be considered when you are trying to renegotiate debts.   If you are assumed to have more equity in your house than is the case in reality,  it could limit your ability to get some help from your creditors.    And third,  if for some reason you have a debt collector who places a lien on your home and you subsequently sell the home for much less than the tax value was at the time of the lien, you will have some explaining to do.   The sale can be examined very closely to make sure nothing funny went on and you didn't sell below market in order to avoid paying your debts.   It's very intrusive and you are somewhat assumed guilty until you prove you are innocent.    So it isn't just about property taxes, although I understand that is what everyone is focused on.    

Apparently, I wasn't signed in when I posted last, so here it goes again. Revenue neutral is not the same as tax neutral. Most people's taxes will go up.Josh wrote a post about it on the blog: http://tinyurl.com/c43umf Vanessa Shortley
News of Orange
www.newsoforange.com
hillsboroughnewsroom.blogspot.com

"Most people's taxes will go up."Care to give some evidence for that?  That would mean that more than half of valuations went up faster then the average.  That can happen, but it would be surprising.

of "revenue neutral" includes all the taxes, which includes sources that are going down -- motor vehicle taxes, personal property, public utilities.  Therefore, the staff definition of "revenue neutral" requires property tax rates to rise.... http://server3.co.orange.nc.us:8088/weblink7/DocView.aspx?id=11397

Ok

But that is a BS definition of revenue-neutral to my way of thinking.  I htink the BOCC has to do what it has to do, but don't hide behind those sorts of semantics.

the state law that requires publishing a revenue neutral rate does NOT allow them to roll into that rate trying to recover lower revenues from other sources. They can come up with some new rate and give it another name that adds the $6.3 m to the revenue neutral rate. In that case, it is NOT the revaluation that is causing 80% of the people to pay more PROPERTY taxes, it is shoehorning in a tax increase in disguise.

It is conceivable that "most" people could pay more in taxes even though the total amount of tax revenue is the same -- if revenue neutral is at 24% increase you could have 66% of the people whose valuation went up by 30% and 33% whose value increased by 18%. The total amount of taxes collected would be the same, but twice as many peoples taxes went up as went down.

On the other hand, it is just as likely that it is exactly the opposite, especially when we see a bunch of properties doubled in valuation. Maybe most people paid less.

In fact, none of the information in Josh's post that Vanessa linked tells us the answer to that question.

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