IBJOpinion

EDITORIAL: Don't abandon basic services because of tax caps

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
IBJ Editorial

The property tax caps that are all but sure to become part of the Indiana constitution after a voter referendum this November are definitely good politics—and might prove to be good policy. We won’t know for sure until we see what becomes of two property-tax funded entities that are starving as the caps fully phase in.

The caps, passed in 2008, now limit property taxes to 1 percent of assessed value for owner-occupied homes, 2 percent for rental properties, and 3 percent for businesses. They were adopted in the wake of the protests that followed huge leaps in property tax bills in 2007.

Property owners were justifiably outraged over tax bills that rose by double-digit percentages. Among the villains in the drama that year were school districts guilty of spending taxpayer money on glitzy new sports facilities. These days, local school districts get their funding from the state. If they need additional money, they can go hat in hand to voters and ask that more be raised through higher property taxes.

Library districts and public transportation systems aren’t so lucky. The state doesn’t allow them to ask for more money no matter how much they need it.

As everyone knows by now, the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library plans to close six branches to counter the loss of 8 percent of its revenue, a decline it attributes to property tax caps.

Likewise, the city’s transportation-of-last-resort bus system, IndyGo, says it will have to raise fares and slash routes to make ends meet. IndyGo is already one of the least-effective bus systems in the country. It’s hard to imagine it being worse—but if the property tax squeeze forces cuts, we won’t have to imagine. We’ll see it firsthand—rather, those who depend on the system will.

The property tax caps that are forcing these painful cuts aren’t inherently bad. Property owners deserve a reliable measure of what they’ll have to pay—and they need protection from the kinds of increases that can drive people from their homes.

The caps become untenable only if measures aren’t taken to provide alternative funding, perhaps a sales tax increase, for basics like libraries and buses. At the very least, these other units of government should be allowed to make their case with voters, who might be receptive to paying a little extra for things that aren’t perceived as luxuries.

No city that aspires to attract jobs and talent can starve the most vulnerable among its population. For many of us, the local branch library is a convenience. For others, it’s a lifeline to learning and to the Internet, which has become a necessity in conducting our lives.

Most IBJ readers don’t rely on a city bus for transportation, but some of them count on the bus to get their employees to work. For those employees, public transportation might be the difference between working and sinking into poverty.

Property owners shouldn’t have to fund all the basics, and the tax caps guarantee they won’t. The question is, who will?•

__________

To comment on this editorial, write to ibjedit@ibj.com.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Cui bono?
    According to the Legislative Services Agency, only 4 percent of cap-caused tax credits went to Indiana homeowners last year (when the cap was 1.5 percent of gross AV).
    Yet caps are being sold as a huge benefit to homeowners ... who are losing vital services without other options to fund them.
    Who benefits?
  • So what's the solution?
    Perhaps a meaningful exercise is for different publics to divide their tax coverages into three buckets: 1) We all agree we need these services; 2) Some of us agree; 3) None of us agree on taxes for these services. Could we even come close to filling buckets 1 and 3, let alone argue about 2?

    The editorial first says property tax caps should be in bucket 1 and good for all, but then hedges from there on.

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Hello Dear Are you tired of Seeking Loans and Mortgages,have you Been Turned down constantly By your banks and Other Financial Institutions or Micro Finance scheme. This is let you know with 100% guarantee that we Offer loans ranging from $1,000 Minimum to $1,000,000.00 Maximum at 3% interest rate per Month. We give out LOANS for developing business. a competitive edge/business expansion. email address: michealscottloan124@gmail.com We offer the following kinds of loans and many more; * Personal Loans ( Unsecured Loan) * Business Loans ( Unsecured Loan) * Consolidation Loan * Combination Loan * Home Improvement * Xmas Loans for contact to seek for loan email this email address: michealscottloan124@gmail.com Thanks

  2. My name is Mr Henry Josh and i live in the USA California and life is worth living right now for me and my family and all this is because of one man sent by GOD to help me and my family, i once had a life filled with sorrow because my first SON needed a kidney transplant and all our savings were going towards his medications and this normally leaves us with no money to pay our bills or even put enough food on our table and our rent was due and no funds to pay these bills and life felt so unfair to me and every night my wife will cry herself to sleep every night until one day, i was browsing through yahoo answers and i saw a striking advert of a man that gives out personal loans and that the offer is opened to all and i have heard so many things about internet scams but at this point of my life, i was very desperate and ready to take any risk and at the end of the day, i applied for this loan and from one step to another, i got my loan within 12 hours through bank transfer and you know, it was all like a dream and i called Mr Daniel Jones A Man who is the GOD sent lender i found and said, i have received my loan and he smiled stating that to GOD be the glory and i was so shocked as i have never ever seen anyone with such a GOD fearing and kind heart and today, i am the happiest man on earth because by GOD’S grace, my SON kidney transplant was successful and today he is healthy, i and my family are living very comfortable and happy and if you are in my former situation or in serious and legitimate need of a loan, you can reach this GOD sent lender via fidelityloanfirm@outlook.com

  3. Greetings to everyone reading this comment!!! I am Greg William by name. I am out here to recommend the effort of Mark Oscar,I was in need of a consolidation loan amount of 50,000 and as soon as I got in contact with Mark Oscar Loan Firm on Wednesday last week and on Friday last week as well I receive an alert from my bank(Royal Bank of Scotland Group) that the fund was transferred,I want everybody on this site to contact Mark Oscar now via email on how to get a loan because I got my loan from them and I am very happy,so contact them now. Oscarloanfinance@hotmail.com Thanks!!!!!!

  4. Elected officials, like Mourdock, get vested in 8 years. It takes 10 years for all other public employees, most of whom make a lot less money. So much for the promise to finish out his term.

  5. Great state treasurer and a good man!! Just curious if the folks who didn't quite understand his quote would like to tell my daughter-in-law that God didn't intend her! Mourdock's comment was correct but twisted and the article didn't mention that his opponent and the press let the impression stand that Mourdock meant that the rape was intended. Stupid people!!

ADVERTISEMENT