Friday, February 27, 2015

Fort Wayne Mayoral Candidate Mitch Harper Cites Overly-Generous Tax Abatement For School Funding Woes

It's refreshing to hear more straight talk from a politician about why some of our schools are really struggling to pay for the cost of educating our state's children. Fort Wayne mayoral candidate Mitch Harper says tax abatements have contributed to the problem in spite of a reporter for a local TV station insisting that property tax caps are to blame.
This all stems from the state constitutional amendment that put a cap on the property taxes you pay.
Republican city councilman and Fort Wayne mayoral candidate Mitch Harper says the city and county have been so eager to attract businesses that they've granted too many tax abatements.
That means those properties can't be taxed, which means less available money for schools.
"We're rapidly approaching in Allen County in terms of tax abatements nearly a half billion dollars' worth of assessed valuation that's not being made available for assessed valuation," Harper says.
He says his mayoral campaign will include putting more controls in place for new tax abatements.
"One of the great victories we've had over the past year is actually being a little more vigorous in auditing that companies that have applied for tax abatements in the past have carried out what they've said they were going to do," he says.
The reporter also talks about legislation being offered by State Sen. Liz Brown (R-Fort Wayne), which would allow Fort Wayne schools to tap TIF funds to help pay for school transportation costs. "One of freshman Republican State Senator Liz Brown's bills would provide additional funding for Fort Wayne Community School bus service, " the report says. "The money would come from property taxes collected in certain economic development areas called TIF districts." "Brown says she knows it's not a perfect solution, and hopes new legislation next session could provide a more permanent revenue source for schools."


Anonymous said...

Nothing against Mr. Harper but he is incorrect and so, to a lesser degree, is the TV reporter.

Abatement and TIF do not reduce the amount available but rather SHIFT the burden of who pays from the favored (those who receive abatement or own property in a TIF) to the unfavored (everyone else). The favored either don't pay (abatement) or their payments are used to more directly enhance their own property (TIF).

While those at the caps are shielded from the shift, those not at the cap make up the difference until such time as they reach the caps.

If anything, the TV reporter might have a slightly better take in that the way the caps work, it can reduce what any unit of local government actually gets in the end. Still, after changes over the last decade, schools are much less dependent on property tax and are much less affected by the caps.

Anonymous said...

He's right, but he's GOP, and I will not, under any circumstances, vote for a GOP candidate.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:50... I understand your position. On the rare occasion a Democrat is right, I know the politician is a Democrat and I will not, under any circumstances, ever again vote for a Democrat.

Mitch Harper said...

Anonymous -

Actually, what I described to her - and others - is what you have outlined in your first and second paragraphs.

The edited part that Ms. Rose used is not complete.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Giving a tax break to one group of taxpayers results in a shift of taxes to those not afforded the tax break--unless--there is a corresponding cut in spending to make up for the lost revenues and any increased spending required to support infrastructure for the "expanding" business less new revenues generated from the business expansion. Tax abatements tend to result in higher tax rates--at least until the mandated caps are met. Of course, local governments have creative ways of getting around the caps.