Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Governor Orders Reassessment In Marion County

In a move that is likely to be music to the ears of Marion Co. homeowners, Gov. Mitch Daniels ordered an immediate reassessment of property in Marion County. In the meantime, property owners need only pay in property taxes what they paid in 2006, not the enormous increases they saw on their property tax bills from Marion Co. Treasurer Mike Rodman. As the Governor said yesterday, it is apparent at least some of the assessors in Marion Co. "abdicated" their statutory responsibilities. According to the Star, the reassessment is expected to take 6 to 8 months.

The Governor also appointed a commission to find long-term solutions to the property tax crisis, including the elimination of elected township and county assessors. He's asked former Gov. Joe Kernan (D) and Chief Justice Randall Shepard to head up the commission. As an attorney, while I respect the Chief Justice enormously, I think it is highly inappropriate for him to accept a role on the commission. There is already one court case challenging assessments in Marion County, and there is a real potential for a case or controversy to reach our state's Supreme Court on this very subject matter. It would be regretful if he would be forced to recuse himself from participating in such an important case because of his role on this commission.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Inappropriate. I agree. The Supreme Court and Tax Court have been as much a part of the problem as the solution.

Doug said...

I assume he has it, but does anybody happen to know where Governor Daniels gets his authority to order reassessment for a county?

Anonymous said...

It's about time the Gov has done something. He sat around without offering any solutions for homeowners, I thought he was going to do something like... outsource! His answer to everything!

Anonymous said...

Gary,
Tax bills have already been sent to mortgage companies and folks are going to be in a real mess trying to get them straigtened out. Will they send a corrected bill to mortgage companies?
This is a nightmare.

Anonymous said...

Dear 1:44:

Please don't confuse anything the Governor is saying with an actual solution to the problem. You are asking practical questions. He is blowing smoke. As has been well described elsewhere, the property tax jump was foreseen by anyone paying the slightest bit of attention. This obviously did not include the Governor - or if it did, he didn't care. Or if he cared, he had no idea what to do to try and stop it. None of those are pleasant things to think about for our Privateer-in-Chief.

So the short answer is that the mess will continue and probably get worse.

Anonymous said...

All predictable. All of this was avoidable. Mitch listened as folks marched on his house. Even though he doesn't live there. Ironic and hilarious at the same time.

This outcome was predicted since Judge Fisher made his ruling. And no, 12:28, the courts aren't to blame for this one. Place this blame squarely on the shoudlers of the legislature.

I'm told the governor is the only one who has statutory authority to order a reassessment. The statutes seem to be unclear about how to handle the tax payments in the interim. His solution seems plausible.

His legal beagles took a week to research this. They checked under every rock. It's rare, and it's unusual, but he can do it.

And yes, it creates a nightmare for title companies, mortgage companies and the county treasurer, given the deadline was so close. Many have already paid.

But better late than never.

I hadn't thought of the Chief's obvious conflict. Gary is right. He should recuse. Not that he will.

Kernan is a natural choice, if he'll do it. I do think they're both fair enough to recommend we trash the current system and start with something else. They're both sufficiently big-picture to "get it." And for some reason, people quakje in their boots when the Chief shows up. Just ask the MDC vis-a-vis the Crown Hill rezoning case.

Wilson46201 said...

Does this mean businesses that just made off like bandits this year on the abolition of the inventory tax will have to pay last year's tax bill which included the now-abolished inventory tax?

What about all the folk like me that promptly paid their spring tax bill already? Of course, my property taxes increased hardly at all...

Anonymous said...

1:56- I could't agree more! The Mayor started discussing and proposing solutions to the property tax issue three years ago. Where is the world was Mitch? Out to dinner with foreign investors?

Melyssa Donaghy said...

URGENT: Cancel your mortgage escrow payments as mortgage companies do not know about the Governor's decision.

Marion County assessments could end up costing mortgage companies a fortune; a trickle down economic liability for mortgage companies courtesy of the Peterson Plan.

Anonymous said...

1:56, Mayor Peterson has not been discussing property tax issues for the past three years. Instead he has focused on breaking his promises to the citizens of Indianapolis and producing inefficent, expensive government. And now, after giving away big tax abatements and credits to developers, Mayor Petrson wants to raise your county income tax by nearly 100 million.

Mayor Peterson shares a large part of the blame for this tax fiasco.

Anonymous said...

melyssa- I'm curious how the Peterson Plan is responsible for the Marion County assessments that you say will cost mortgage companies a fortune. You do know that the Mayor is not one of the assessors, don't you? Isn't the Gov to blame since he did NOTHING to stop the problem that could easily be predicted?

Melyssa Donaghy said...

You know, this is just my theory and I didn't hear it anywhere else, but I think I know why our Governor signed the ok to launch this property tax nightmare.

I think he did it so all hell would break loose and he could actually have daily TV coverage of the "will of the people" to make radical change in our system.

Sadly, we spent nearly the entire session this year arguing for hatred of gays. Those are the legislators you need to unelect. They all knew it was coming.

My bets are that The Governor will reform schools and work to repeal all property tax in Indiana because it is what The People want. Why do you think he's calling to pull out the constitution?

I think Indiana is going to end up being one of the coolest states in the country to live in when we get this done. And I believe the only thing it will take to get it done is for The People to continue to take to the streets to make their will known...just as it should be.

Anonymous said...

3:24- maybe you should check some of the news archives. The Mayor HAS been talking about the property tax problem for the past 3 years. He has also been trying to get the State to do something to fix THEIR problem. For instance, he has urged the state to take back control of state-run child welfare. The fund is up to around $100 million, and that costs Marion County tax payers a lot of money. If the state would take responsiblity for it instead of pushing it onto Marion County, it would save MC taxpayers millions!!!

Anonymous said...

melyssa- i agree, but you still didn't explain why the Peterson Plan is responsible for the Marion County assessments that you say will cost mortgage companies a fortune

Melyssa Donaghy said...

3:26 "anonymous" ...Hmmm well perhaps it is partly because of the wasteful spending of Peterson's administration.

I should know. I've been in litigation with the city for 20 months. They are so far less than efficient it is laughable. Now they want to dismiss my case, yet the city attorney agreed with the judge to dismiss on June 13th and we still don't have the paperwork.

My attorney who took my case at a bargain rate(not unlimited taxpayer money)gets needed paperwork to her in just a couple days.

I wonder how much of the people's money the Mayor spent going after me for what was nothing more than a sensationalistic excuse to get on TV.

You didn't see any zoning lawsuits or press conferences by the Mayor in regard to peashakes, did you?

That's one example of excessive waste of The People's money that I can speak personally about.

I'm sure many who read this blog have their own stories including the excessive use of 70+ armed officers for Monday's rally at the City County Building. You really think Peterson needed that many guards to protect the council from Meridian Kessler folks?

We need protection from guys like Aaron Haith...the council has nothing to fear from the homeowners except their vote come November (that is if Beth White can get our precincts open).

Abner said...

Doug: I don't that the Governor has the inherent power to order a reassessment but the DLGF does under the statute set forth below. For all practical purposes, they are one and the same. However, it appears the DLGF must hold a hearing before ordering the reassessment.

IC 6-1.1-4-9
Reassessment resolution of department of local government finance; hearing; reassessment order
Sec. 9. In order to maintain a just and equitable valuation of real property, the department of local government finance may adopt a resolution declaring its belief that it is necessary to reassess all or a portion of the real property located within this state. If the department of local government finance adopts a reassessment resolution and if either a township or a larger area is involved, the department shall hold a hearing concerning the necessity for the reassessment at the courthouse of the county in which the property is located. The department of local government finance shall give notice of the time and place of the hearing in the manner provided in section 10 of this chapter. After the hearing, or if the area involved is less than a township, after the adoption of the resolution of the department of local government finance, the department may order any reassessment it deems necessary. The order shall specify the time within which the reassessment must be completed and the date the reassessment will become effective.

Anonymous said...

melyssa- you want to talk about all the "wasteful" spending by the Peterson administration, but you're forgetting about all the things done by the state that are costing homeowners in Marion County more money. For example, eliminating the inventory tax which shifted the tax burden from businesses to homeowners. Or how about when the state capped the property tax replacement credit. That's just a few off the top of my head.

Anonymous said...

Doug: I do not know the answer to your question where the Governor gets his authority to order reassessment for a county or county, but I wondered the same thing (and, of course, why journalists covering this story seemed to fail to miss this basic and obvious question--could it be they are once again acting as stenographers rather than journalists?). Is there some Indiana statute that essentially MAKES THE GOVERNOR THE TAX FAIRY? All he has to do is WAIVE HIS MAGIC WAND and POOF, TAX PROBLEM SOLVED, or at least postponed? If so, why did he not waive it before? Talk about DEUS EX MACHINA.

And I concur with the original post pointing out the obvious conflict for the Chief Justice...

Anonymous said...

you won't believe what barf peterstain just put up. Check out this crap: www.bartpetersonformayor.com

Anonymous said...

"What about all the folk like me that promptly paid their spring tax bill already? Of course, my property taxes increased hardly at all..."

Understandable, cardboard boxes in a ghetto generate little in taxation.

Wilson46201 said...

Snide cracks by anonymous nobodies merely mess up serious political discourse...

mw said...

Wilson...I think this one or maybe two of the times i agree with you

Old Grouch said...

"...businesses that just made off like bandits this year on the abolition of the inventory tax"

Can anybody point to some figures on this? Seems like there are multiple factors here:
(1) Elimination of inventory tax.
(2) Upward (sometimes dramatically) reassessment of residential properties.
(3) No reassessment of (some) business properties. (Star story last week indicated that at least some commercial-residential (apartments) got reassessed.)
(4) Changes in the state school funding formula. (Took money away from districts like Washington Township.)
(4) Spending increases by all taxing authorities.

I'd love to know what each contributed.

Doug said...

Add to that list a cut in State funding of the property tax replacement credit and the homestead credit. There is a fairly close relationship between the Governor's recently announced surplus and at least part of the spike in property taxes.

And thanks for that DLGF code cite.

Advance Indiana said...

I would add that the elimnation of the business inventory tax took place under a Democratic governor prior to Daniels taking office. I've also heard a lot of complaints that the state surplus is directly attributable to the capping of the property tax replacement credit. That may be true, but it was supported by Democrats and Republicans alike in the legislature.

Anonymous said...

The fund is up to around $100 million, and that costs Marion County tax payers a lot of money. If the state would take responsiblity for it instead of pushing it onto Marion County, it would save MC taxpayers millions!!!

In other words: Since various Marion Co. mayors gave away the farm to certain businesses, we now want the other 91 counties to help bail us out. If the state does this for the other 91 counties, then I could see an arguement.

Anonymous said...

Gary -

Aren't there big legal ethics problems with the Chief Justice chairing a committee to sort out property tax and local government policy? Can he ever sit in a future hearing on the constitutionality of the property tax system the he, himself, very well may have helped design?

And besides, what's his expertise? This seems like a big, big problem.