Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Taxation With Referenda

The Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee gave its approval today to SB 18, which will require local governments to hold a referendum to fund with property taxes capital improvement projects that cost the lesser of $7 million or 0.5% of the total taxable property in the political subdivision. "If people want to build something, let them vote to build it and let them vote to pay for it," say the bill's sponsor, Sen. Gary Dillon, as quoted by the Star. Not surprisingly, lobbyists for schools oppose the measure. I suspect architect and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Schellinger isn't too anxious to see SB 18 enacted into law either. He's made millions off school construction projects in Indiana.

The Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee also gave approval to SB 21, which converts property tax rebates for Marion Co. homeowners into a larger homestead credit. According to the bill's sponsor, Sen. Teresa Lubbers, it will result in homeowners who saw their tax bills increase the most seeing more tax relief for their unpaid 2007 property tax bills, while those whose tax bills changed very little or actually decreased will receive no extra relief now. The county will also be saved from the expense of mailing out rebates to homeowners.

And as the Senate also took up debate on SJR-8, a constitutional amendment to repeal the property tax, news came that home sales dropped 10% in the Indianapolis area last year. Existing home sales fell 11.2% in Marion and Hendricks Counties, 10.2% in Morgan County and 9.7% in Hamilton County. "The metro-area residential market ended 2007 as weak as the way it started, as a national credit crunch, waning consumer confidence and rising property taxes combined to batter home sales," the Star reports.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Gary Dillon for SB 18 which may help limit some of the inappropriate school construction projects. If you support property tax reform, remember the names of those that voted against this bill: John Broden, Frank Mrvan and Connie Sipes. They are no friends of property taxpayers. Vote them out!

Anonymous said...

As I understand SB18, it seems to be very weak. The bill exempts districts that have a 4 percent increase in enrollment. 4 percent is a small increase and I am concerned schools could easily work the numbers to stack the enrollment in their favor to bypass the referendum. If someone knows more about this bill, please enlighten me. As of now, I am less than pleased with the strength of this bill.

Anonymous said...

The exemptions are part of the lobbying efforts of superintendents and school boards. Their lobbyists are influential.

I'm torn on this concept. I think we elect school boards, and they ought to live or die by the choices they make. Too few people vote in school board elections.

If referenda become easier, as under this bill, we'd let those school board members off the hook.

We ought to direct our anger at the specific board members in elections. And if you need a guide on just whom that might be, it's easy:

Basiclaly, it's all of them. They get cozy with superintendents, for reasons undetermined, and we all know how most superintendents love to build things.

This insane obsession with construction outweighs all reason and ability to pay.

Finally, taxpayers have had enough. No more $15 million North Central pools, or $20 million Franklin Central football stadiums.

Taxpayers would look much more favorably at $15 million for language and science labs, I'm guessing. Sooner or later, all buildings wear out or need updated. When those solid academic needs are demonstrated, taxpayers will likely step up.

They've just been burned so long and so badly.

Anonymous said...

Few school boards reflect the family demographics of their district. For example, in Washington Township, over 80% of the voters do not have children in school; however, only one school board member is from that group. The parents group recruits and run a school board slate in a very deliberate and organized fashion. Therefore, only rarely is a candidate ever elected to a school board without the endorsement of the parents group. Powerful forces want this system to continue because they can manipulate it to their own benefit. In politics 101 we learned that, if you control the nominating committee when there is only one political party, you control the organization. In the case of Washington Township, if you follow the money, the special interest group with the most control to pull the nominating strings appears to be the construction industry. In our case, an architect is chairs the parent nominating committee. Since the voters allow this to happen, then they should not be surprised when those handpicked school board members build $14 million swimming pools and $2 million stand-alone athletic locker facilities. A $200 million construction orgy is to follow shortly.

Anonymous said...

Has Long killed SJR8?