This past Tuesday the Washington County Commissioners voted 5-0 to send $2 million of the county's $12 million surplus back to the taxpayers as a rebate.
Their first calculation was that most property owners would get $400, which is a tidy sum. But a few hours, and a bit of number-crunching later, the commissioners found that their first calculation had been in error.
Instead of $400, it would be $40 per taxpayer, which is about the price of a gas tank fill-up these days. The commissioners seem determined to go forward with the rebate, however, and probably will credit it against property-tax bills.
Given that 2006 is an election year, nothing short of a natural disaster is likely to deter the commissioners from following this rebate strategy. But, given that the rebates we're talking about are so small, is it really the wisest use of surplus cash?