We're all in it together

Dateline: Tue 07 Aug 2007

A real estate agent has already advised us against moving back into Marion County. Where would you go? I asked him. He recommended Southern Hamilton or Boone County: near enough to the big city, but away from the property tax hassles, the crime and the fierce politicking that ultimately could cause the city's core to crumble.

I shared my agent's response with a new friend today at a small get-together in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood, one of the city's many anchor areas. This young woman, my new friend, lives in the 46208 zip; her kids attend IPS and St. Thomas Aquinas. Her modest limestone ranch-style home was recently assessed at $230,000, a price, she says, it would never sell for. Her property taxes have gone up 90 percent.

That aside, she didn't spend the time bitching about who was running the city and what was wrong. Her approach was refreshing. Her understanding, based on news accounts, is that Marion County taxpayers are paying huge increases because of hot spots on several fronts: public safety, public schools and welfare distributions. Her solution?

"Why are the poor the problem of just one county? When is the burden going to be distributed equitably across all the counties?" The hidden question was -- when are the rich in Hamilton, Boone and the donut counties going to assume their fair share?

From a social justice perspective, she is correct. Everyone knows people move away from the city -- whatever city -- to get away from the problems. Instead of accepting that as the status quo, why not impose a commuter tax on all those Hamilton County etc. residents who work in Marion, yet live out yonder? Why should only Marion County residents bear a 65 percent income tax hike?

Obviously, the mayor and the state should consolidate outdated government township systems and services, as well as cut back on hiring, as promised. But from a moral perspective, Indiana can't thrive if Marion County fails. We're all in this together.


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