Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Star Prints Ryan Vaughn's Lie Because It Fits The Agenda

The Indianapolis Star long ago abandoned any thought of reporting "just the facts" when it comes to local government matters in Marion County. It always supports any call for higher taxes. It always supports tax breaks and public subsidies for the downtown real estate deals of political insiders. And it always supports calls for new spending regardless of how merit-worthy it is. So don't expect the Star to disabuse its readers of any misinformation fed to the public by the political insiders with whom it's in bed when the truth conflicts with its agenda.

One of the biggest lies fed to the public continuously by dishonest politicians and the Star is that any revenue problems faced by local government rest entirely at the door of the property tax caps enacted in 2008 as part of a statewide legislative tax reform effort led by Gov. Mitch Daniels and the Republican-controlled legislature. Now that Mayor Greg "No New Taxes" Ballard seeks to raise taxes and fees for the umpteenth time since being elected mayor in 2007 on an anti-tax message, his chief deputy, Ryan Vaughn, tells the Star that a tax increase is only necessary because Marion County property taxpayers are paying too little in taxes as a result of the Republican-enacted property tax cap law. From the Star's John Tuohy:
"Vaughn said tax collections have lagged since passage of property tax caps in 2008. Next year's property tax revenues will be $63 million less than in 2008 -- the homestead tax credit and the police tax were a couple of the only options the city has left to collect additional money, Vaughn said.
Of course Vaughn's statement is a flat out lie and a big hat tip to fellow blogger Pat Andrews for calling him out. And it just goes to show that the Star will print any lie as long as it fits their agenda. What the Star, Vaughn and all of the other lying politicians always neglect to tell the public when they discuss property tax caps is the fact that at least $113 million in annual property tax-funded obligations were shifted to the state, freeing up revenues collected from property taxes and other sources for other expenditures. The only number you need to concern yourself with for purposes of next year's budget is the growth in income and property taxes. As Andrews points out, that figure is expected to grow $34 million next year from $540 million to $574 million, or 6.2%. Ballard wants to raise taxes an additional $30 million, resulting in a net increase of 12% in combined income and property taxes next year.

What they also don't tell you is that funding for local government services is short-changed by the ever-expanding and never-ending TIF districts the politicians created to divert money from the property tax base into their slush funds to finance the private real estate development projects of their campaign contributors. Marion County TIF funds now consume close to $120 million a year in property tax revenues you pay that cannot be used to pay for basic city services, schools, libraries and township government. That also doesn't account for the tens of millions in new property tax abatements that are approved each year by these same politicians that further chip away at local property tax revenues available to fund essential services. So the next time you hear someone blame property tax caps for the lack of revenues to fund basic city services, let them know it's a lie because that's what it is. To the extent there isn't enough money in the budget to fund basic services, it's because the politicians had other spending priorities. You will never read the "rest of the story" in the Star.


Unigov said...

Another missing element - Indy assessments of low-end houses are vastly inflated. It's typical for houses selling below $40k to be assessed for twice that amount.

Nobody cares because the burden falls on renters.

Gary R. Welsh said...

I totally agree, Unigov. There are many houses out there assessed in that $50K to $100K range that you can't give away because nobody wants to move into those neighborhoods and invest money in the homes trying to fix them up. They're now slapping new regulations on landlords that will only exacerbate the problem.

Anonymous said...

They're trying to take $185,000 from Indianapolis Animal Care and Control next year, from the most under-funded and beleaguered department. But we can build a cricket field and give money to private investors in Broad Ripple to build apartments and a grocery that no one wants and will cause more traffic problems. If the IACC budget were to increase, we could truly promote and perform spay/neuters, and in just a few years, we'd have less of a pet overpopulation problem. I had great hopes for Ballard and his administration, but he's proven himself just another politician.