Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Marion County GOP's Property Tax Plan

Rep. Jon Elrod (R-Indianapolis) and City-County Councilor Ryan Vaughn unveiled the Marion Co. GOP's property tax plan today. “Our caucus recognizes the pain homeowners here in Marion County and across Indiana are experiencing due to these unacceptable increases in property tax rates, “ said Elrod. “What we have proposed today is the first comprehensive plan to address immediate relief for taxpayers and the need for immediate and long-term government reform to reduce reliance on property taxes.” It's actually a 10-point plan, which includes the following:

  • Enact Governor Daniels plan to make the property tax rebate a property tax credit
  • Call on Governor Daniels and DLGF to order a reassessment of Marion County property taxes
  • Move the due date for this month’s property tax bill two months or until the reassessment is completed
  • Place a moratorium on tax sales of homes subsequent to 2007 property tax bills
  • Cut all local non-public safety spending by 10%
  • Place a freeze on all capital projects, pay raises, and non-public safety hiring
  • Sell of all unnecessary Government owned property in Marion County
  • Combine the various police pension funds in Marion County, eliminating the need for the income tax hike
  • Convene a special session of the legislature to enact long-term property tax reform
  • Utilize the tools the Legislature gave local governments to offset the need for higher property taxes

Gov. Daniels' announcement earlier today that he was ordering a reassessment in Marion County, and that taxpayers need only pay what they paid in 2006 until the reassessment is done, seems to take care of the first four points of the GOP plan. I particularly like the idea of selling off unnecessary government-owned property. Let's eliminate Center Township Government while were at it, sell of the buildings which are worth about $12 million and take the $11 million sitting in the bank and put it all towards the unfunded pensions. The GOP's plan doesn't address the consolidation issue; I think it should. Lawrence Township Trustee Mike Hobbs tells me there is movement again on consolidating the Lawrence Fire Department into IFD. He also is not opposed to eliminating his own Trustee's job while they're at it and consolidating those functions as well.

I also feel compelled to address a nasty rumor floated by Bil Browning at The Bilerico Project today, suggesting that Republican lawmakers would block any attempt to address the property tax problem unless SJR-7, the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and other rights for unmarried couples, is put back on the table for a vote. Browning writes today:

From what I'm hearing, the Republicans are still angry that SJR-7, the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions, failed on a tie vote in the House earlier this year. Before they're willing to address property tax reform, they want the amendment back on the table and passed in the same special session. No amendment - no tax relief. And since Republican Governor Mitch Daniels (or "The Blade" as BushCo called him when he worked on their team) is to blame for the dramatic increases in taxes, is it no wonder that the Republicans are desperate for a scapegoat?

I don't doubt that someone Browning considers credible passed along this rumor to him. And given House GOP Leader Brian Bosma's obsession with the issue, it could be an easy rumor to believe. It just may not be true though. I contacted Rep. Elrod about the rumor. He is the only Republican member of the House who openly opposes SJR-7. "There is no truth to that rumor whatsoever," Elrod said. The gay marriage rumor seems to be part of a pattern which has emerged on the part of Democrats in recent weeks to discredit people who are speaking out against the property tax mess. I will give you that it was a complete waste of the legislature's time to devote so much attention to the gay marriage amendment this past session, but that's not the reason real property tax reform didn't happen this past session or any other session over the past several years for that matter.

A couple of weeks ago a lady in Meridian-Kessler was skewered by local Democratic operatives for complaining about her rising property taxes to a local television station. On Monday night, an upset property owner is thrown out of the city-county council committee hearing for articulating his frustration with the mayor and council better than anyone else I've heard from lately. Adding further insult to injury, some in the blogosphere have resorted to labeling him a liar based upon incomplete or inaccurate information. Unfortunately, Jen Wagner of TDW, who I respect deeply, got caught up in the frenzy to discredit this poor guy. She's also running with the gay marriage amendment rumor. I have many gay friends who are as angry as the next guy about their property tax bills. They are prepared to vote Mayor Peterson and the Democrats out of office. I believe someone may have simply made up the rumor and passed it along to Browning in an effort to prevent members of the GLBT community from supporting a GOP candidate for mayor or council in Indianapolis this year. If it turns out I'm wrong, I'll be the first to report it and complain as loudly as Bil Browning is complaining. But as critical as I've been of Bosma, I find it hard to believe that he would be so stupid as to condition action on property taxes to a vote on the gay marriage amendment.


Wilson46201 said...

I'm the "democratic operative" and the lady involved lives in the classy Golden Hill enclave down in Center Township, not up in Meridian-Kessler ...

Anonymous said...

Wilson, the term may be "operative" but it's just a fancy word for "dumpster diver".
Why don't you go down to O.P.s and spend the rest of your retirement years enjoying the "fine things" they have to offer.
Let the people who have something to contribute to society do their jobs.

Unknown said...

Wilson, the guy from the Council meeting is putting out his trash tonight. Shouldn't you be busy with that instead of posting on here?

Wilson46201 said...

Of course, "ramrod" is another cowardly pseudonym for another rightwing political loser who seems fascinated by gay bars and boozing. I'm not. I haven't been in Gregs (as O.P.s now called) for at least 3 years and that was for a Democratic fundraiser...

Anonymous said...

This SJR-7 issue is NOT the flavor of the day, property tax reform is!
I for one DO NOT want this damn issue even brought up again at the State House!
The rumor is pure bullshit!
I'm voting my pocket book NOT my fricking Bible and there are lot more of people like me than them.
The stupid fight over SJR-7 wasted valuable time that could have been devoted to solvong this tax delimma.
To the bigots on both sides of this issue I say back off.

garyj said...

Why is it when someone posts anonymously or under a pseudonym, you have to call them names? Granted, calling you a "dumpster-diver" wasn't right either, but you shold be the bigger person and ignore them, not fall into their trap. Look at all the times you posted at Indyundercover anonymously. Did anyone pick on you there?
Stick with the topic and leave the "trolls" alone.

Wilson46201 said...

"...unveiled the Marion Co. GOP's property tax plan today. “Our caucus recognizes..."

That's confusing. The GOP has a caucus within the State Legislature and the GOP has a caucus within the City-County Council. The Marion County Republican Party is a political party, not a mere "caucus". I realize both Elrod and Vaughn are political "newbies" but as lawyers, you'd expect them to get the basic political terminology correct when they are speaking officially for a political party in a major American city! Such slipshod use of caucus to describe themselves shows a weak organizational level.

Wilson46201 said...

GaryJ: I have never ever posted anything on IndyU: NEVER! I rarely visit there - the level of sheer racism, homophobia, paranoia, misinformation and general freeperism is quite off-putting. I disagree with Abdul and Gary frequently but at least those two are halfway sane and sensible...

Anonymous said...

So, let me get this straight: The Marion County GOP announces their big property tax plan and it says... drum roll please, EVERYTHING THE GOV SAID. Well done gentlemen. Congratulations on taking over a week to think up a great plan, that consists of no original ideas. I agree with most posters on here, the GOP could definately turn this county around. It's just the kind of new thinking we need. (sarcasm)

Anonymous said...

Stepping out of the petty bickering and addressing the post if that's ok...

While I have a little less partisan take on it than Gary (and others), I just read the referenced posts and my skeptical nature kicked in. The rumor about holding tax relief hostage to the marriage amendment wasn't sourced by bilerico, and TDW only sourced it to Bil.

I would like to be wrong, and I'll be happy to be proved so. I think if the Republicans pulled such a stunt it could be used to our advantage (meaning those of us who are actively fighting the abhorrent SJR7).

But I have my doubts about this particular rumor.

Anonymous said...

Gary, I've heard from a highly-placed GOP politico who says Bosma is being pushed very, very hard by many in his caucus to put SJR7 issue back on the table, if not in a special, then definitely next year. And, to trade almost anything, including tax reform, to get it back on the front burner.

That's how desparate these clowns are.

So the rumor is alive and well, and coming from some very concerned Republicans, who think they're barking up the wrong tree. You would know the names of the people who are gossiping about this. Very credible sources.

But always remember: Bosma is a creation of his caucus, which is increasingly right-wing and shrill. He is in love with being leader, and he'll do almost anything to keep the title.

Anything. Including making verbal love to Eric Miller.

It's no accident that Miller is pushing property taxes to his minions now...he's raising big bucks doing so, too. The money and PR he gets on taxes, can transfer easily to SJR7.

They're not defeated: they're just reloading, and with viciousness.

It's not always amusing to watch Republicans eat their young. Bosma may be forced to throw some red meat to his wingnuts to stay in his precious job.

And the post about what these Republicans call it, caucus, group, whatever--it's just silly. What difference does it make?

Gary R. Welsh said...

Anon 9:19, I don't doubt there are people in his caucus making this demand, and I don't doubt they are being egged on by Micah Clark and Eric Miller. But until Bosma himself makes a demand on behalf of his caucus, it hasn't happened. And Elrod said Bosma has not made that demand.

Anonymous said...

"GaryJ: I have never ever posted anything on IndyU: NEVER! I rarely visit there"

BART'S not the only LIAR!

Anonymous said...

Elrod isn't exactly tight with the in-crowd, though. If that were true, do you really think he would be in the know? There would be enough House votes to pass it with D crossover, as long as it got out of committee.

Gary R. Welsh said...

I think Elrod has Bosma's ear a little more than you might assume, anon 10:36.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Gary, for digging for the truth. Shows really strong character for you to defend the person you despise, just because what people are saying is obviously untrue, and just plain dumb. It's perhaps even more than that -- my information is that the Dems are using this rumor to block the Gov from calling a special session. It's not nice to use the community's fears for partisan gain, but here we go again.

Anonymous said...

Let's eliminate Center Township Government!

Sell those buildings and get that horrific name off of the building on Fall Creek Pwy.

Eliminating Center Twp Government, well, you might say you're eliminating corrupt political patronage.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the update, and you're right...the Star has done an excellent job. You have, too.

Although Rep. Elrod may have Bosma's ear more than we think, do you really believe, for a second, that BB would hesitate to throw us (and Jon) under the bus on the SJR7 issue?

He'd do it without batting an eyelash.

As much as you may think Elrod has Bosma's ear...Reps. Turner/Burton et al are much more powerful, and I'm guessing they speak with Bosma much more than Jon. Jon is a brand-new freshman, who will have a tough time holding onto his seat by sheer numbers, while Turner and his crowd are vets. And you know how that legislature works...

And, again...the voices who are saying this are prominent, Indy-inner-circle GOP types. Think lobbyists, lawyers, players...they don't want the SJR7 issue coming up again because they correctly realize it's a dead-end wedge issue: short-term gain, perhaps, but long-term grief. But it plays in the hinterlands.

My fingers are crossed on this one. I'm not sure Bosma can withstand the pressure, though.

Anonymous said...

samxllrtmgkxEliminate property tax totally. Solution: raise sales tax 2%, raise gas tax 1%, outsource road and waste management, fire assessors and tax related personnel. Reduces lots of political pressure.