Thursday, December 06, 2007

It's The Spending, Stupid

Former Indiana GOP Chairman Rex Early reminds us that spending by local governments is the real culprit of high property taxes in a column he pens in today's Star. "Local spending in Indiana has increased from $2.1 billion in 1984 to $7.9 billion last year," he writes. "These massive increases are neither fair, nor sustainable to the property taxpayers of Indiana." He adds, "That's why I support Gov. Mitch Daniels' proposal to cut property taxes for every Hoosier homeowner, capping them forever at a maximum of 1 percent of a home's value."

Early's column notes that currently more than 55% of Indiana homeowners are paying more than 1% of their homes assessed value in property taxes. I would add that is not necessarily saying much because most of the homes in my neigbhorhood are assessed well below the fair market value of the home and the taxes are still too high. Once the tax cap is enacted, you can bet that those same homes will soon find their assessed value creeping much closer to their fair market value. Early likes an aspect of Daniels' property tax reform plan which would mandate that tax boards in each county review all local spending plans to keep budgets in check and protect homeowners from overspending.

The Star's editorial writers today remind lawmakers that nothing short of real property tax reform will be acceptable. They agree with Early on the need for tax caps. "Yet, as Daniels understands, any reform package that doesn't impose at least semi-permanent caps on property taxes falls short of providing a lasting solution," the editorial reads. "Past reform attempts have proven temporary at best." "Tax cuts have been replaced over time, and sometimes quickly, with sharp increases in property tax bills."

And it becomes more and more apparent that some lawmakers just don't get it. Gov. Daniels wants to get rid of our archaic, political system of electing township assessors and replacing them with a single, appointed professional qualified to do the job. This is a system that allows a completely unqualified high school janitor to get elected as assessor in one of the state's largest townships simply because his candidacy had the blessings of local political bosses. An out of touch Sen. Connie Lawson (R-Danville) told the Star she thinks it is unlikely Daniels plan for assessors will be approved. "I've got some concerns about whether we can make significant progress," Lawson said. "Some really good information came out about the value of the township assessors and what they do." Sen. Mike Young (R-Indianapolis) adds, "Why is it better to have somebody non-elected who I don't know versus someone elected who is keeping me informed?"


Wilson46201 said...

"...a completely unqualified high school janitor to get elected as assessor in one of the state's largest townships"

You are quite mistaken about Center Township Assessor Gene Akers: he's never been a janitor - he was the administrator for IPS for all school custodians with a staff of 515 people under him. That's a not inconsiderable executive position.

His current staff of only 30 employees as local Assessor is much simpler to manage.

Anonymous said...

It is way out of hand, but it's only fair to adjust for inflation. I ran one of those online inflation calculators:

What cost $210 in 1984 would cost $409.82 in 2006.

In adjusted dollars spending doubled (which is certainly bad enough), not more than tripled as the numbers in the editorial state.

Anonymous said...

In other words -we the big cash cow has you and your wallet in a headlock and we aren't going to let go regardless of how unfair, unequal, bloated, the property tax system is- we got you, the fountain of money.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for reaffirming what we already knew Wilson. Akers had ZERO experience that qualified him for the position.

Anonymous said...

Precisely what are Gene Aker's qualifications to to be Center Township Assessor?
What is his educational background? What is his professional background?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
It takes courage to share personal accounts like this one.

ANYONE who knows someone who has lost someone or been affected by property taxes needs to tell their stories (anonymity is appropriate out of respect for family members or other reasons).

Legislators can dismiss the so-called wing-nuts who protest, but if citizens bombard them with letters, blog-posts with stories and pictures of real people who are suffering or who have died over this issue, we might be able to persuade?

The property tax crisis in Indiana may ultimately distill down to a "numbers game". But we can make it IMPOSSIBLE for elected officials who drone on in meetings, hearings, & press conferences, to ignore the human casualties from their ignorance and inaction.

We must abolish this corrupt, expensive, subjective, system that robs individuals of their dignity as well as their homes.

Anonymous said...

Gene Akers qualifications are he got elected by the voters--simple, end of story.

Look around the state at all the elected officials-
we have farmers, trailer park owners, Elvis impersonators, marketing consultants, teachers--the ONLY thing that makes any elected official qualified is that they got elected!

And REx Early is mistaken--it isn't all about spending. Look at the rate difference between Carmel and Meridian Kessler in Indianapolis. Spending alone DOES not account for the difference in rates.

garyj said...

So, he was the "head janitor"?
He still has ZERO qualifications for the position.
Same reason I didn't run for it.
NOT QUALIFIED!! At least I'll admit to it.
You never did answer my other question either Wilson. Thats OK.
Asking you the obvious questions will make you go away.

Anonymous said...

9:37 is right, of course. But here's the rub:

There was a certified assessor running against Akers for the Dem nomination. She was not beholden to the Center gulag, so she was opposed. She almost won anyway. It was kinda close.

Akers was not and is not qualified for the position he holds, except that he's a good friend of the Center gulag.

Any attempts to justify his managerial experience at IPS is a joke. IPS is not exactly a paragon of good management by any respectable standards. It's a wasteland of bureaucracy and inefficiency.

Our legislature is awash with trailer park operators (Jeff Espich, lead Republican on budget issues, since 1976), Elvis impersonators and others. The village idiot needs his representation, but not this many.

And Connie Lawson, for the record, is no genius. Her comments were ridiculously stupid.

Repeating the message to all 150 legislators: voters will not accept Business As Usual any longer. Period. That goes for both's a nonpartisan shot across the bow.

That includes the current township system. Ignore the warnings, and heed Wilson's lame miserable excuses, at your own peril.

Wilson46201 said...

By the way, the Republican nominee for Center Township Assessor was a retired supervisor from Allison's, Gary Loveless. He's a real nice guy but was not a trained real estate appraiser...voters rejected him 3-to-1.

Still, I bet most of Gene Akers vocal critics voted for the GOP candidate without once considering his credentials ... now, they are busily attacking Akers.

The facts are that the local Assessors need not be experts in real estate. It's a management job supervising clerks doing routine bureaucratic work. Technical appraising experts are hired either as staff or as consultants. The local Assessor is just an executive running an office...

Anonymous said...

Gary, we need to talk about this and the what the "best" consolidation plan is - and no, it's not the govs.
Becky Williams
Franklin Township

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote:
"the ONLY thing that makes any elected official qualified is that they got elected!"

That is absolutely not true. Judges and prosecuting attorneys, for example, must be admitted to the practice of law. If they aren't, they aren't eligible to be elected.



Anonymous said...

Obviously experience is not an issue with the voters. Ballard was just elected mayor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, what experience did Bart Peterson have when he was elected mayor?

I'll wait.