Baxley takes a stand

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 9, 2006

It’s going to take more than undoing annual reappraisals for Democratic Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley to oust current incumbent Gov. Bob Riley. According to an Associated Press report, Baxley has taken up an issue first advanced by the losing gubernatorial campaigns of Roy Moore and Don Siegelman: an end to annual property tax reappraisals, which had begun under Riley’s Republican administration. Considering neither Moore nor Siegelman made it past the primary brings to question whether this is really a campaign issue or not.

According to Riley, he has maintained since 2003 that Alabama needed to change to annual reappraisals to comply with a state law that requires property to be appraised at its fair market value, and the only way to do that is with annual reappraisals because property taxes are paid annually. “As long as the law says you do it annually, we’ll do it annually,” said Riley at a news conference on Tuesday.

However, Baxley sided with how Riley’s predecessors interpreted the law, six of them to be exact, that the law meant reappraisals could be done every few years. According to the State Revenue Department the change under Riley’s administration would produce cumulatively over the years of the phase-in an extra $448 million for state, city and county governments by 2010.

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Baxley is tackling an issue that she considers to be important to many voters as the cost of inflation continues to rise. The more taxes voters pay, the more aggravated they become often times towards the responsible politicians. In this case, all fingers point to Riley.

Whether this issue becomes a hot campaign item or not is yet to be seen. What is known, though, is that it will take more than one issue for Baxley to win the highest seat in the state from the incumbent. With the general election only months away, both candidates need to explain what their plans are. The voters as well need to be tuned in so that they can make informed decisions.