I would like to share my thoughts regarding an expression used in many ways but with only one purpose. This expression consists of two words which is usually perceived by some as being of less value while others find it important in their daily lives. Since my thoughts are free of charge I will not ask for you to reach deep into your pockets as we discuss “loose change.”

First let’s take a look at what it means to have loose change before moving onto where it matters most. In its basic term the expression loose change means a “small amount of coins.” In order to have a small amount of coins in your pocket the first step is to change one of those larger bills. For example if you purchase an item for $0.90 with a $1 bill the change received will be 10 cents. Are you following me so far? Good. Next, you purchase another item for $0.75 but with only $0.10 in your pocket along with $1.00 bills the only other option is to break another bill. Now you have two coins making a little noise in your pocket equaling $0.35. Next comes an item to purchase costing $1.50. Again in order to purchase the item you will need to break another $1 dollar bill for more loose change. Suddenly you have a few coins in your pocket making some noise. It’s adding up isn’t it folks? Well actually it’s a slow process of money lost… a little at a time.

Ok, so now it turns into what we all know as “pocket change” which are coins that sometimes end up in other places like donation jars or coin trays. Have you ever gone to a store where there is a clear container asking for donations? Usually I throw my pocket change into one of the causes that truly exhibit a need. Another option is to toss your loose change into one of those small trays near the register for others to pay for an item without breaking their own bills. Now that all of my change is depleted what’s next? Well, you break another bill to receive more change for your next item.

Some people refer to loose change as also being small change. Of course depending on your wealth will determine its value. People with great wealth consider $100 bills as being small change. Spare change is a completely different situation whereas it’s a small amount of money someone does not need. For example you might encounter a person in need of spare change for a cup of coffee or some food. Another example is a friend asking for some spare change. Of course through your generosity that spare change becomes “their change.” I have now reached the point of having no change in my pocket while waiting to break another dollar bill. It’s no big deal folks. It’s only a small insignificant amount of money right?

I would honestly like to ask you (as taxpayers) without taxing your brain on your thoughts of a proposal to increase property taxes and fees in the City of Amsterdam? Do you find the proposal to be insignificant or significant? Well, first let’s first look at what the proposal is asking city taxpayers to do before determining if it’s significant or not. The proposed 2017-18 budget totaling nearly $25.85 million includes an increase of that loose change you have jingling in your pocket. This will require you to break more of those dollar bills that are lying around the house. The spending plan includes a 1.3 percent property tax levy increase (within the state mandated tax cap) yielding a total of $5,268,151 in property tax revenue. Spending would increase just over $946,000 along with revenues increasing $1.25 million.

The kicker here is with the proposed budget a projected property (meaning those who own property) tax increase would be 2.91 percent. In terms of loose change, it’s about 45 cents giving ownership a $15.98 per $1000 of assessed property value. For my next question please raise your hand. How many out there own a home? How many out there rent? How many out there are owners of rental properties? How many owners of rental properties are planning to increase their rent if property taxes go up? How many properties out there are receiving tax incentives? How many out there are exempt or better yet immune from any type of property tax? How many out there are receiving a subsidized roof over their head? By the way let’s not forget the a la cart menu of additional user fees to increase if this proposal takes place. My final question is how many of you will be paying that extra 45 cents? Ok folks you can put your hands down.

I’d like to say we are a wealthy city with a booming population, but it’s not the case. Whether it’s the price of gas, the price of groceries or a slight increase in taxes the idea of any rising costs is always a concern. A few cents here and a few cents there against millions of dollars in a budget might not sound worthy of an argument, but it’s an old trick politicians have perfected. It certainly has been an effective way of gathering our coins. After all it’s only “chump change.”

Until next time—hold that thought.

Mike Lazarou is a columnist for The Recorder. He lives in the City of Amsterdam.