The key point in Evans' story is that both the state and Marion Co. Assessor Greg Bowes were aware of this problem months ago and chose to bury their heads in the sand. As Evans writes:
The Department of Local Government Finance and county officials were aware of the potential problem months before tax bills went out.
"We are concerned about the uniformity of the assessments in certain areas," former department Commissioner Melissa Henson wrote in a March 27 letter to Bowes, the Marion County assessor.
"Specifically, we are concerned about the Improved Residential property class in Center Township, as well as the Commercial and Industrial Property classes county-wide."
The letter also said the assessor "should complete a countywide reassessment of commercial and industrial properties and continue refining Improved Residential property in Marion County" before tax bills are calculated next spring.
AI readers first learned about this problem back on April 27, 2007 after I quoted from a story Ed Feigenbaum wrote in the Indiana Legislative Insight. Unfortunately, Evans lets Bowes off the hook in his story. Quoting Bowes, Evans writes:
Bowes said several factors led to what he believes to be an underassessment of commercial property: Township assessors were pressed to complete reassessments;So what's next. The Star reports the idea of a 10-month reprieve in the payment of your property taxes is being considered for Marion County property taxpayers. The idea was conceived by Marion Co. Treasurer Mike Rodman and will be taken up by the city-county council. You would be required to pay your first installment on time; however, you would have ten months to pay your second installment without penalty rather than paying the full second installment in November. A special session is still a possibility. If I'm reading the tea leaves correctly, a special session will be called if there is a concrete plan put out in advance that lawmakers can mull during the special session.
they had too few business property sales to use as comparisons; and there weren't enough people who could handle business property reassessments. "The result is the assessed value (of commercial property) did not go up enough," Bowes said.
Matt Tully is now on board with the call for a special session. "A special session could be the first step toward a long-term restructuring of local government finances. Indiana needs a serious and focused conversation about consolidating government and making it harder for entities such as library boards and township trustees to increase taxes," he writes today. He adds, "A special session free of silly resolutions and wedge issues could start that conversation." He also thinks the privatization of the Lottery should be put back on the table. Nice try, Matt, but that issue is a non-starter with Democrats.