The Indy Chamber currently backs raising the local income tax and eliminating the homestead property tax credit ostensibly to hire more cops. The tax increase is actually being pursued to pay for the costs of a new privatized criminal justice system to be built just outside the mile square to allow prime real estate downtown to be redeveloped by members of the downtown mafia. The Indy Chamber also supports raising the local income tax to finance a regional mass transit boondoggle at the same time it has supported the city spending tens of millions of dollars to subsidize the construction of privately-owned parking garages in downtown and Broad Ripple. Now the Indy Chamber wants the General Assembly to approve a commuter tax that would be paid by workers who reside in the surrounding counties but work within Marion County. Not surprisingly, Star political columnist Matt Tully thinks that's a swell idea:
I’ve found that having a calm discussion about the issue of a commuter tax is nearly impossible. Even the mention of one leads to immediate, angry responses from those who either hate taxes in general or, quite understandably, don’t think their income taxes should be captured by a county other than the one they call home.
A man wrote me a couple of years ago to protest the very idea of a commuter tax, which has been both discussed and stalled for decades around here, and his protest summed up the opposition well: I moved out of the city, he told me, to get away from its problems. And one of those problems, he said, was the cost of paying for the city’s many other problems.
So I come today in peace, understanding the built-in opposition about commuter taxes but hoping to raise a few questions and start a conversation. It’s an important one because the numbers make clear that something must be done to improve Marion County’s financial situation, and it is inherently unfair to have the residents of the county accept alone the cost of funding public safety officers and road paving, and so much else, when those things clearly improve the lives of suburban residents who rush in for work five days a week . . .
Marion County has been on an unsustainable fiscal path for a long time,” said Mike Huber, president of the Indy Chamber. “I think there is a growing sense that something has to happen. And that is magnified by debates about how to put public safety funding on a longterm sustainable path.”
In recent years, because of property tax caps and other decisions by the state legislature, cities and counties have become more reliant on income tax than ever. Growing income tax revenue is crucial to counties’ future. That is intensified by the fact that the state controls sales taxes — with the exception in Indianapolis of those collected for its sports stadiums, which, of course, benefit the entire region.
The bottom line, Huber said, “is that those who are benefiting from a system should pay into a system that makes those benefits possible.” . . .As usual, Tully accepts the talking points of the Indy Chamber's Mike Huber, who has absolutely no experience running an actual business, without any critical analysis since that would actually require some effort on his part. Property tax caps once again take the rap for Marion County being on "an unsustainable fiscal path." Of course, diverting $120 million a year in property taxes to the TIF slush funds and passing out tens of millions of dollars in new property tax abatements each year has had no impact. Just look at the billions of dollars in public subsidies that have been poured into Indianapolis' downtown over the past several decades, and yet more and more middle and upper middle income workers choose to move outside Marion County. Why? Having sports palaces and a large, first-rate venue for out-of-state organizations to host their conventions downtown obviously isn't the panacea its promoters dish out to sustain Indianapolis so their answer is to force suburban taxpayers to subsidize more of the City's reckless, misplaced spending priorities like they're already doing for Lucas Oil Stadium. The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. If you are wasting your money on a membership in the Indy Chamber, I would highly encourage you to drop it immediately--unless you just love seeing your taxes raised for more of the same foolish spending. And Mr. Tully, some of us think it's unfair that all of these nonprofits that populate Center Township with high-paid corporate executives don't contribute a dime to support city services like the rest of us. Why aren't you talking about them contributing their fair share instead?