Property taxes are out of whack

December 12, 2009
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IBJ Letters To The Editor

I have always found Morton Marcus’ columns both entertaining and informative. I read the Dec. 7 column, in which Marcus seems to insinuate that property taxes were acceptable as they were and do not require modifications. As a resident of Marion County, I could not disagree more.

The inequities in tax rates from county to county are particularly disturbing to me. The tax rate on an investment property I own in Hamilton County was nearly a full percentage point lower than my primary residence in Marion County. I could not understand this, as the majority of property taxes go to public safety (police, fire and rescue). I believe most would agree that those services are far superior in Hamilton County.

To make things even worse, the Marion County assessor cannot seem to assess properties anywhere close to their fair market value. I purchased my home in Meridian-Kessler in 2001, and it was recently reassessed at more than double what I paid for it. I of course appealed this assessment, along with the previous reassessments. My original appeal was in July 2007, and I have yet to receive any decision from the assessor on the original appeal or any of the subsequent ones. It seems the consolidation of the township assessors’ offices has not improved their service or accuracy. It may have made it even worse.

I seriously considered moving to the suburbs and will still pursue that if the Legislature does not come up with a permanent solution to the property tax issue. I simply cannot afford property taxes that constitute nearly 40 percent of my total monthly mortgage payment.

The only reason I am still living in Marion County is the wonderful Indianapolis Public Schools magnet school Center for Inquiry 84 that my son is attending. Kurt Wiegand wrote a column on school competition and magnet programs in the same issue of IBJ. These magnet schools are a great option for Marion County residents if you can get your child enrolled in one. Although they don’t justify the higher taxes, they certainly make them a little easier to stomach.

Eric A. Gleissner
Civil Site Group Inc.


  • follow up - transportation cost
    Double all those numbers above if you and a spouse are doing it separately. For 20 mile distant suburb, that's $640/month. Let me ask again: HOW MUCH is your property tax now, and what would it be in the 'burbs?
  • Consider transportation cost also
    If you move to the suburbs you're going to be commuting pretty far, so you might end up spending a lot more on transportation and that would wipe out any savings from property tax. If you commute by car alone to a full time job, assume the cost of commuting is $16/month per mile one-way distance (If you have a very new car or a gas guzzling SUV, it could easily go up to $25/month per mile or more.) This assumes 20 work days/month (one trip each way on those days), gas 13 cents/mile, car depreciation 17 cents/mile, added maintenance and repair 10 cents per mile(total of 40 cents/mi.) I highly doubt it's worth it, if the suburbs are 20 miles further out, that's $320/month on commuting to save how much on property tax????

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