Mayor Bart Peterson and some City-County Council members haven't been happy with the way media [and] The Indianapolis Star has portrayed the income tax increase passed Monday.
The council increased the county income tax by 65 percent to fund Peterson's $90 million crime-fighting and pension-funding plan. The actual increase went to 1.65 percent from 1 percent.
Deputy Mayor Steve Campbell said there has been some grousing on the 25th Floor of the City-County Building -- the shorthand reference for the Peterson administration.
"The conversation here is that you have two choices about how to present it, and the headlines went with the more sensational one," Campbell said Wednesday. "Some people called and thought we were taking 65 percent of their income."
Actually, the mayor has several times made a common mistake, using the wrong wording for the hike. He has called it a .65 percent increase. He could accurately call it a .65 percentage point increase.Campbell acknowledged that a 65 percent increase is "absolutely factually correct."
"It just seemed to us like trying to whip people into a frenzy when that's already there," he said.
Actually, if you add the prior increases in the COIT rate of this Mayor and council to Monday night's increase, local income taxes have actually increased 175%, a point made at the council meeting by a Democratic councilor, Dane Mahern. It seems to me the public has every right to be worked up in a frenzy over rising taxes in this city without any help from the media. The fact that the Mayor and Democrats are complaining about the coverage of the issue is proof of just how much their standing with voters has fallen in this critical election year.
On another note, I got around to taking a closer look at a letter Councilor Scott Keller (R) sent to me after I discussed with him his support of the Mayor's tax increase. As a past supporter of his campaigns, Keller drew attention to what my "generous investment" in his campaign gave our city: "Supporting responsible alternatives to too-high property taxes, such as a regional 1% sales tax or higher County income tax." He's right about supporting a higher income tax, but he did it without providing any property tax relief. By the way, the first item he mentions in his letter will not likely resonate with his supporters any better: "Co-sponsoring such economic development/job creation projects as the Conrad Hotel, Simon headquarters, convention center expansion, Lucas Stadium and the new 1,000-room hotel." That's a fly in the ointment to many taxpayers who feel those very projects are the reason they are now paying higher taxes.
Hat tip to the avid AI reader who pointed this item out to me in today's Star.