Monday, August 20, 2007

Sylvan Lake Holds A Tea Party To Protest Property Taxes

The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette reports on a tea party held over the weekend in Lake Sylvan to protest against rising property taxes. Kelly Soderlund writes:

Like their 18th-century forefathers, taxpayers gathered together Sunday to defy government and make a symbolic move against the grip on their wallets.

They weren’t disguised as Indians, and they weren’t griping about a tax on tea, but a group of property owners had its own version of the Boston Tea Party on Sunday. Instead of throwing barrels of tea into Boston Harbor, Noble and LaGrange county residents stuffed their property tax bills into a white cloth bag, which was then dipped into Sylvan Lake.

While their ancestors were angry about Great Britain’s control over their taxes, these homeowners are incensed about increases of as much as 150 percent on their property tax bills. Assessed values in Noble County increased 12 percent this year on average, county officials have said.

Nick Heffner, an engineer from Rome City, partnered with Hoosiers for Fair Taxation, an Indianapolis-based activist group that advocates the abolishment of property taxes, to organize the event, which drew about 75 residents. The crowd was not deterred by the rain, which came down steadily as people watched the “tea bag” bob in the lake and stood around debating about the increases.

“My taxes went sky high, and I can’t even afford to pay anything,” said Pam Spohr, 53, who owns a house on Sylvan Lake and several rental properties in the area.

Spohr and her husband had to dip into their inheritance and retirement money to help pay the 150 percent increase on their bill. She fears they’ll have to sell the rentals.

Spohr and many other homeowners have written their state legislators about the increases to no avail.

“They vote party line,” Spohr said. “They vote whatever the governor wants.”

Noble County resident Glenn Minser, 42, thinks the solution is to get rid of property taxes altogether. Two years ago, Minser said his property tax bill was about $1,200, then dropped to around $900 last year. It jumped this year to nearly $2,300.

Misner thinks the government needs to quit spending so frivolously and figure out a better way to manage the budget.

“Once they can show a little fiscal responsibility, then we’ll look at taxes again,” Minser said.


John M said...

"Spohr and her husband had to dip into their inheritance and retirement money to help pay the 150 percent increase on their bill. She fears they’ll have to sell the rentals."

I certainly don't support or defend huge, unforeseen tax increases, inaccurate assessments, or general government incompetence. But even if we were to slice 1/3 of what is now supported by property taxes off the tax rolls, the income tax rate and sales tax rate would have to nearly double so that we could fund our schools, fire departments, etc. Now, if that's what Hoosiers want to do, that's fine, but it should be with the recongition that such a step would increase the burden on people with jobs and expenses, such as middle class families who rent or live in modest homes, and would eliminate the vast majority of the tax burden on the landed gentry, such as Meridian Kessler retires who live in homes worth $500,000 to $1,000,000. While I have some sympathy for the aforementioned Mrs. Spohr, I think some folks might be justified in rolling their eyes at the indignity of having to spend one's inheritance to pay bills. Most Hoosiers would be glad to exchange problems with Mrs. Spohr. Again, I don't want to sound like a class warrior who wants to soak the rich. Nevertheless, particularly in light of Indiana's flax tax rates, it seems worth noting that the wealthy would be the primary beneficiaries of the elimination of property taxes.

M Theory said...

John M....we need to drastically cut government bureaucracy. It's critical if we are going to keep the tax rate low. Also, an increased sales tax will increase revenue collected from illegal residents and underground economies.

On a happier note, the Indiana Tea Party at Lake Sylvan made CNN News! Who woulda thunk it?

Future Tea Parties to be held in South Bend and New Albany. HOOSIERS FOR FAIR TAXATION will bring a delegation and the tea bag anywhere in Indiana with water. Details are on our website:

Thanks for the plug, Gary!

David C Roach said...

join the Universal life church today! stop paying property taxes tomorrow!

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