Just four years ago, Peter Wurzer retired from his position at the Dr. Pepper/7-Up company in Dallas, Texas, and moved to Albemarle to build his dream house. “For the first three years, I was busy with that house,” he says. “When I finally got finished, I said, ‘Let’s take a look at what’s going on,’ and all of a sudden I started to see the tax situation.” The talk was of a 30 percent increase in assessments, something Wurzer saw as unacceptable. So he went to a budget meeting of the Board of Supervisors, “and I heard all these people get up and rail against the taxes but they had no facts,” he says. “It was all emotion.”
Peter Wurzer thinks government inefficiency is no more reasonable than murder.
Wurzer decided to investigate, and after joining the local Republican party, he became the Director of Research for its budget spin-off, the Albemarle Truth in Taxation Alliance (ATTA), helping to lead an effort to reduce the county’s tax rate last year to 68 cents from the previous 74 cents.
As the budget process begins this year, ATTA is once again drawing its focus on the Board of Supervisors and the tax rate they feel is still too high. The following are excerpts from a discussion with the local tax hawk.
C-VILLE: Last year, ATTA was successful in marshalling people out to the county budget meetings to demand a lower tax rate. How much of a role do you think ATTA played in the final rate of 68 cents?
Peter Wurzer: Certainly I would say we had some part in it, but only to the extent that we provided a platform and a critical mass. The big thing that got the reduction down was that the county couldn’t look us in the eye and say they wanted to raise taxes 30 percent.
It seems that ATTA is particularly sensitive to the allegation that you don’t want to fund schools or teacher raises.
Absolutely. I think the reason that charge is made is because it’s convenient to say we’re nothing but cheapskate taxpayers, and that’s not the case at all.
I think there’s two key decisions that have to be made in any government or business situation. Number one is, how much money do we want to spend? Second, and maybe even more important, how do we want to spend it? I think we get too tied up with how much, but just focusing on the revenue is a bad thing to do.
You urge government efficiency, but doesn’t a certain amount of bureaucracy exist at every level?
I don’t accept that anymore than I accept the fact that since the beginning of time, human beings have murdered.
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