During the coming weeks, a number of Indiana cities and counties will be coming to terms with their new budget realities.
Mayor Greg Ballard worries his predecessor, Bart Peterson, may have overreached with his ambitious tax-increment-financing
district for the last phase of Fall Creek Place. That phase of the renewed urban neighborhood isn’t producing enough revenue
to support its $6.2 million in outstanding bonds. And Ballard is not sure all of Marion County’s 37 other TIF district are
Many Indiana school districts say they have no choice but to brace for cutbacks in areas like school repairs, computers and
transportation thanks to the property tax reform measure approved by the General Assembly and signed by Gov.Mitch Daniels.
Property tax reform is now Indiana law. Hoosier homeowners are thrilled. But many corporate leaders grumble the historic deal was brokered on the backs of business. Topping their concerns is the new 3-percent property tax cap for commercial and industrial properties, which they fear will slow business expansions and discourage companies from moving headquarters to the state.
In 2005, assessors valued the 559-acre Indianapolis Motor Speedway at $34.4 million for property tax purposes. According to
the latest Marion County reassessment, it now has a market value of $170 million. Thousands of other businesses also would
see extraordinary spikes in property values, according to an IBJ analysis of the latest assessment data.
Here’s a political hot potato that so far has received little discussion in the rancorous debate over property-tax reform:
Should the enormous costs of helping impoverished Hoosiers continue to be funded county by county, or spread to taxpayers
As legislators prepare to overhaul the state’s property-tax system, Marion County’s future hangs in the balance. Indianapolis
residents–particularly in the city’s older, urban core–already pay far higher taxes than their suburban counterparts. And
arguably get less bang for their buck. Changes on the table could make Marion County an even tougher sell.
The art of the deal is to get more than you give up. If Gov. Mitch Daniels convinces the General Assembly to pass his property
tax plan intact, he’ll meet the definition of deal-maker, and then some.
The property-tax reassessment process that Gov. Mitch Daniels ordered last month will take five months and cost up to $3 million.
But don’t expect it to significantly alter the property-tax equation, warns Franklin Township Assessor Becky Williams, who
also serves as president of the Indiana Assessors Association.
When it comes to advertising and marketing, the city’s two tallest skyscrapers are Class A, all the way. But throw out that
notion at tax time. The owners of Chase Tower and OneAmerica Tower–and some of the city’s other large office buildings–have
successfully lobbied for lower building “grades” that save them big bucks on property taxes.
Indiana deliberately chose not to invest the tens of millions necessary for technology that could provide an accurate property-tax
forecast. Instead, the state relied on an aging patchwork of property tax software that allows officials only to guess whether
assessed valuations of homes and businesses are correct.
A former head of the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance says some Marion County homeowners soon could see property-tax
increases of as much as 50 percent–far higher than government officials estimated. In part, that’s because of Indiana’s decision
five years ago to abolish the inventory tax.
Taxes on Marion County commercial and industrial properties soon may go up sharply. The Indiana Department of Local Government
Finance, which oversees the state property tax system, has ordered a complete reassessment of the county's commercial
and industrial properties.