Friday, July 15, 2011

Fun with Numbers: Informing the Citizenry

Editor Mat Delaney reports Lake Placid's town fathers have set next year's property tax rate at 3.81 mills. He says the millage rate represents $1 in taxes for every $1,000 in assessed value.

No, it doesn't. That millage rate represents $3.81 for every $1,000 assessed.

Delaney goes on to compound the error. He says a home "valued" at $50,000 would see a tax bill of $500. If this is supposed to be an example of a one-mill levy, he misses by a factor of ten (50,000 x 0.001 = 50). But, based on the news out of city hall, that tax bill would actually be $190.50 (50,000 x 0.00381).

As for that "tax bill" that he glibly predicts will be seen: Delaney forgets to mention that the city's levy is only part of the local property tax package that will include millages earmarked for schools, county government and services, state water management and any local taxing districts the citizenry voted to fund for fire, ambulance, mosquito control, etc., etc., etc.

If you write about numbers, you have to be numerate. If you cover city hall, it's not your job to paint a rosy picture by reporting only half the story.

1 comment:

  1. Boy, you'd think a reporter would know what a millage rate was