Stopping the tax buck

December 7, 2007
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We Hoosiers are getting value from the libraries, schools and other public services we fund with our taxes, but not enough valueâ??at least according to Mike Hicks, who moved from Ohio this year to take over the Bureau of Business Research at Ball State University.

Legions of board members across the state make reasoned decisions to add wings to libraries and build schools to try to improve quality of life. The problem, Hicks says, is the collective weight of all those spending decisions drives up the overall tax bill more than most communities can justify.

If the overall tax bill were in line with the value of services received, Indiana housing values would be rising faster, his research shows. Home values would rise because people would consider the towns or neighborhoods good places to live and bid up the price.

Hicksâ?? solution is to route all local spending decisions through one local office or commission â?? someone charged with deciding whether the library wing or school is the better use of money.

Do you agree with him?
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  • While I hate to see some oversight commission being added the fact is there are simply too many agencies with taxing authority who fail to take into account the whole picture. Each entity is intent on representing their particular interest without weighing the consequences to many priorties across lots of special interests.

    Therefore, I would support an oversight commission.
  • Yes, I agree that individual taxing authorities don't give enough consideration to the cumulative tax burden when they raise rates. And yes, we are being taxed for projects and services that benefit too few citizens. I'm still trying to figure out how Franklin Twp. Schools managed to build a $6 million football stadium without much voter protest. The answer is for all of us to show up at public meetings and speak against wasteful spending. It would help if the agendas for all public meetings were published in the newspaper ahead of the meeting date.
  • Indiana has more than 1,000 separate taxing entities, each with the authority to raise taxes. Each entity operates alone, without knowledge of what the other entities are doing. Each entity focuses solely on its own needs. Without reigning in this serpentine, out-of-control system, taxes will continue to rise no matter what stop-gap measures our state legislators take. We do not need 1,000 taxing bodies. We need one responsible, accountable group of people who will make informed decisions when it comes to tax issues. A bipartisan commission will go a long way toward solving our tax problems.

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