Saturday, October 17, 2015

Marion County Taxpayers Surprised By Another Backdoor Tax Increase

There isn't a tax or fee Mayor Greg Ballard and our Indianapolis City-County Council haven't seen fit to raise during the past eight years, which is a bit ironic given that Ballard was swept into office in 2007 amidst an anti-tax fervor. As property tax bills began arriving in residents' mailboxes this past week, they realized they were being socked with yet another gigantic tax increase in the form of storm water fees tacked on to their property tax bill. WTHR's Mary Milz says the Marion Co. Treasurer's Office is being swamped with phone calls from angry taxpayers about the surprising tax increase.
Talk about sticker shock. More than a quarter-million homeowners in Marion County have seen a huge jump in storm water fees. According to the Marion County Treasurer's Office, the average hike is 113%. (Just under 37,000 homeowners saw rates drop, an average of 11%.)
That news has flooded the treasurer's office with more than 2,500 calls the last two days and hundreds of walk-ins.
It began after property owners got a second property tax bill this week. Storm water fees are tacked on to the spring bill, but since the new rates didn't take effect until July 1, a second bill was required.
The rate changes were approved by the City-County Council and mayor last fall to help pay for upgrades and improvements to the city's aging storm water system.
Instead of paying a flat $2.25 a month, the new rate is based on the amount of impervious surface a homeowner has.
Last month, Department of Public Works Spokesman Brian Easley told us "impervious surface is anything rain has to run off of. That includes a home, garage, driveway, sidewalk, patio, deck and pool. The more impervious space a homeowner has, the more he or she will pay.
Anthony Hoffman was one of the homeowners who saw his bill spike to $12.10 a month or "six months higher." Seeing how much more he was paying, he half-jokingly said, "wow, I should tear out my driveway."
Officials in the treasurer's office said most of the calls were from people wondering why they were getting a second bill and why their rates had gone up.
"We did advise them last spring that this would be happening, but I don't know if they just did not anticipate that. Our phones are very busy right now," said Cindy Land, stressing, "the treasurer is merely the collector, the treasurer is not who established those rates."
In his last few months in office, Ballard has been busy beating the bushes talking to folks his administration has handsomely rewarded with your taxpayer dollars, reminding them they better not forget what he's done for them as he goes in search of his post-mayoral lucre. A prison cell in the Terre Haute federal penitentiary is the only appropriate spot for this man to land after the way he's raped and plundered the City of Indianapolis during his eight years in office.


Anonymous said...

Why are we paying for storm water fees on property tax AND on the water bill???

Anonymous said...

Wait till they get their "trending" property tax increases......perhaps Ballard and Brainard can share the same cell.

Anonymous said...

As soon as I got my new property tax bill I went to the site to see the sq. ft. of impervious surface. Per their site my sq. ft. of impervious surface is about 25% to 33% greater than my estimate and part over your sq. ft. is charged to the next highest unit so if my sq. ft. is 2250 sq. ft. I'm billed for 3000 sq ft. And finally the amount I owe on that sq. ft. from their web site is about 1/3 less than the amount on my property tax bill.

So my bill is overestimated on sq.ft. by 1/3, billed on the next higher 1000 sq. ft. unit and that amount doesn't agree with my property tax bill. Oh and my water bill has tripled since 2011.

Anyone else have similar results? I'd urge all the tax payers in Marion County to appeal their property tax bills. It may not do any good but at least we can fight back.

Gary R. Welsh said...

DPW handles the calculations of the storm water rates. I believe you have to appeal the assessments there instead of the normal manner in which you would appeal your property tax bill.

Anonymous said...

I agree completely - if my property doesn't flood, why on earth should I pay a storm water tax - heck, if my streets are OK, I shouldn't pay anything for streets that aren't OK - the folks who live there ought to pay. If we need $380 million in storm water repairs, the guys who live where it floods ought to pay, and if they don't, and I can't get somewhere because it's flooded, it just means I shouldn't have wanted to go there in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:03 and 8:20 I agree.
Where I live, the last section of the addition has the main street and 2 cul-de-sacs, 15 homes. Our Storm sewers where put in by the developer and they empty into a private lake, which the association takes care of. But we still pay the the storm sewer assessment.
Just checked last month's bill 104.17, with 59.42 going towards sewer charges. The property tax notice I got is for 39.90 for storm water and 32.00 for solid waste.
Can't get an answer on how we get charged for storm sewers when we are not connected to the city.

Anonymous said...

Is there a specific website that has the city-county council vote on this matter; mainly WHO voted pro & con? I'd love to know if my councilor voted for this.

Anonymous said...

I own rental property in the city and got socked for hundreds of dollars more in this bill. Already the water/sewer bills are sky high. I have several 4 unit properties and one of them is regularly generating $450 a month water/sewer bills. Just a few years ago that would have been a $140 bill. So I contest the oft stated premise that these bills have doubled. My properties have seen a tripling of water/sewer bills. And that definitely passes thru to rental increases at my next opportunity. The city county council thinks they can tax residential property owners with impunity because they can't touch all the exempt property and the big guys have lawyers to contest assessments. They think renters are not hit by these taxes. But when landlords expenses go up, rents go up. And rents are going up. Don't blame the landlords. My profit margin is the same as it was twenty years ago. But these increased utilities; its simply criminal. My tenants are elderly living on fixed incomes and disabled living at the poverty line. They shouldn't have to shoulder these costs. How about we let the Capital Improvement Board use its surplus this year to cover these expenses. How about if Simon starts carrying his own weight. How about we un-exempt some of the thousands of parcels that pay nothing. How much can one county milk the same property owners over and over. I voted for Ballard, but his administration raped and pillaged its way thru my neighborhoods' tax base so he could lavish the square mile downtown with our taxes. The city council doesn't seem to understand that we don't want things run this way anymore. Where will this end?

Anonymous said...

After reviewing the nearly $4 million Hogsett has raised for his campaign, over 90% of his contributions came from engineers, attorneys and developers all doing business with the city. Some of the engineers making big money from the storm water rate increase are among his largest campaign contributors. So this big tax increase is on top of the income tax increase that took effect in January. I will be retiring soon and am already looking at my options to move out of this city for good.

Josh said...

Hopefully this will go the way of the licensing bureau criminality.

Unigov said...

Joe Hogsett's house assessment went DOWN 37 percent this year !

320 E. 82nd St:

2013 assessment = $40,100 land + 298,000 improvements = $338,100
2014 assessment = $40,100 land + 298,000 improvements = $338,100
2015 assessment = $40,100 land + 186,600 improvements = $226,700

He did NOT file an appeal with the county, this just "somehow" happened. See for yourself at

Flogger said...

I feel like so many other issues the idea of new construction, upgrading and repairing our sewer system has been kicked down the road by successive Mayors and City-County Councils since the Lugar era. A similar lack of action has taken place concerning our Streets-Roads, Public Parks and Public Transportation. Oh, we receive some band aids here there, but no real planning for what is over the horizon.

The money is always found by our Elected Puppets to fund billions of tax dollars to build stadiums for Paces and Colts. Not only that we have to provide direct and indirect subsides to the downtown. Downtown is not viable with out Corporate Welfare.

Sir Hailstone said...

"I feel like so many other issues the idea of new construction, upgrading and repairing our sewer system has been kicked down the road by successive Mayors and City-County Councils since the Lugar era. A similar lack of action has taken place concerning our Streets-Roads, Public Parks and Public Transportation. Oh, we receive some band aids here there, but no real planning for what is over the horizon. "


Mike Jasper said...

At the Franklin Township Civic league election forum I participated in I talked with 3 farmers. (yes in Franklin Township we still have a few farms) They related to me that their storm water fees would go from less than $100 to as much as $1,000 because anywhere they had a gravel surface was also considered impervious. Add insult to that injury. They still have to maintain their own ditches and no one has cleaned them out below their farms so water backs up on their property. So once again Franklin township pays so downtown can pass their problems on to them rather than provide services that have value to those that actually are paying the freight.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:41, I presume you know who you're dealing with, but I used this FED silliness to dump everything I own in Marion County (and also HamCo) while I can. The chickens are coming home to roost. Wouldn't want to own property in what will very soon be a literal free fire zone. Doesn't matter if Lying Joe or Ballard v 2.0 is elected.

Anonymous said...

Spot on, Flogger. Downtown is a corporate welfare ponzi scheme, but hey, Livability rated us #3, right after Fort Worth Texas.

Downtown Indy said...

I urge everyone to file a protest. I certainly am. The measurement of 'impervious area' is based on satellite photos and computer-drawn lines. I measured mine and they figured 50% over what it actually is.

The definition of 'impervious' is squirrely on its face, as a gravel drive is considered just as impervious as asphalt.