Give thanks for property tax-cap forum

Dateline: Thu 26 Nov 2009

The Meridian-Kessler Neighborhood Association will host a property tax-cap forum Tuesday Dec. 1 with Indiana state represenatives from the area giving attendees their two cents worth.

Time is 7 p.m. and place is the Basile Opera Center at 4011 N. Pennsylvania Street.

At issue is Senate Joint Resolution 1 (SJR1) which "amends the Indiana Constitution to cap homeowners' property tax bills at 1% of assessed value, rental and agricultural property at 2%, and business property at 3%," according to the Watchdog Indiana web site.

If you favor putting a limit on property taxes -- and no doubt, most of us living in "old Indianapolis" areas such as Meridian-Kessler and Butler Tarkignton do, based on the fiasco of a few years ago that doubled and trippled taxes for older homes -- then this is your meat.

Again, according to Watchdog Indiana, which favors fiscal responsibility in government on behalf of working families, the lines are drawn:

"Never has it been so easy to separate the Good Guys from the Bad Guys. A State Representative who pledges to vote for the exact same version of SJR 1 that passed in 2008 is a Good Guy, otherwise the legislator is a Bad Guy. The State Representative who does not respect his or her electorate enough to clearly declare whether he or she is for or against SJR 1 is an Unknown Guy."

John Ketzenberger, president of the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institure and former biz columnist for the Indianapolis Star, will moderate the forum, which will include legislators -- I'm told there are five who represent MK, and so far we're certain that Rep. Ed DeLaney will be there. Others will be mentioned as confirmations come in.

The forum will open with 5 minute statements from each of the legislative attendees, according to the press release, followed by 45 minutes of audience questions. Panelists will then be given 3 minute closing statements each.

SJR1 has passed the State Senate both last year and this year.It pased the House of Reps las tyear, and must pass the House again before it is put to a referendum vote by the public.

Let's try to attend and let reps know where the people stand, as well as hear their views.


Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Stop already.

Those of you who live in certain neighborhoods with particular kinds of houses, that are/were subject to horrific applications of mismanaged tax assessor guidelines, should seek remedy. I'll be right there beside you, cause it could happen to me in my ramshackle non-MK home anytime.

But an amendment? It's overkill. And here's why:

The founders of our national and state Constitutions thought it should be very difficult to amend. For reference, I refer any of you to the extensive writings on this exact subject of Jefferson, Madison, Franklin (federal) and Judge Isiah Blackford (state), among others.

Amending the Constitution is a cheap-ass answer for lazy legislators to fix a statutorily-created problem.

State Tax Court Judge Thomas Fisher found Indiana's property tax system unfair and ordered the legislature to fix it. They finally got around to it 6 or 7 years later--near the deadline in Fisher's ruling. In a haphazard and inadequate manner. Typically.

The unprecedented confluence of Fisher's ruling, and the shift to a property-value system...created a tax catastrophe. It was all preventable. I liken it to natural disasters:

Friends who live in California berate friends who live in Florida. Why? The dreaded hurricanes. My Floridian friends have this retort:

Hurricanes never sneak up on you. We've usually got 4-6 days to prepare, move, board up, etc.

California earthquakes come in the middle of the night. Without warning at all. Well, unless you're an earthquake scientist.

Our prop tax problem was evident for at least 5 years. A state judge told us to fix it. Ample brains exist in this state to have phased-in remedies. But no. Our legislators didn't.

Ruthie dear, the very real problem those two neighborhoods have, specifically, could've been and still can be fixed with statutory remedies. Please do not advocate amending our Constitution because the 150 village idiots who assemble each January, can't see past their noses to fix a problem they created.

Or else they'll get the idea we can be calmed with Amendments. As in marriage (after we already have statutes that discriminate, because "the voters want it"). Or other ridiculous passing fancies.

Our Constitution is a sacred document. Its Amendments should be saved for vital issues that cannot be fixed otherwise.

Stop it. Or I'll drop a house on you.

2009-11-27 04:19:08

hendy [Member] said:

I'll agree with you, TTT, but raise you a couple of metrics.

The property tax debacle is going to continue, and it can't be easily solved; there are simply no guts in the Statehouse unless they're influenced by lobbyists and campaign contributions. There's the place to spend the constitutional amendment: a cap on contributions, none from anyone but constituent individuals that are registered to vote in the district where the election's taken place, and none from a "party". Lobbying is capped from other sources at $100 per year per source, in toto and aggregate. The contributions would be made only to a broker, who in turn, would not be able to reveal the source except by subpoena, and would also disburse the funds after checking with all other brokers to ensure the limitations. Do this at local state and federal levels.

Then some of the battles we face would be less influenced by our growing corporate and foundational aristocracies and more by We The People.

2009-11-27 08:22:02

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

OK Hendy, I'll grant ya that. But it ain't gonna happen soon. Because operational control of the House is basically up next year, with redistricting. And no one will give up the sugar teat while they're dividing us up into districts. Like so much cattle. They need the PAC money for important things.

Common citizens like us have lost all influence at the Statehouse. I don't see it returning anytime soon, sadly. They're in town for a few months each year. Think about the midset of the average legislator: who can afford to have a job that lets you be gone three or four months a year? Those days are mostly gone. Unless you're retired or wealthy, your employer takes a huge hit every year while you're gone.

There are 150 of them. And about 2 dozen worth a cup of warm spit. The rest are dog crap. Seriously. Don't believe me? Go over in the gallery sometime and listen to these folks speak.

Most of them are polyester goofs who can't string together two coherent English sentences. And we trust to them, a complicated subject like property tax reform?

My good friend the late Harrison Ullman was right. God ain't good to Indiana when it coems to the legislature.

Which is one more freaking reason we can't let these inbreds mangle our Constitution. It was not made to be amended. Period. Not when logic and brains can solve the problem.

2009-11-27 10:40:43

hendy [Member] said:

Sometimes it takes something really awful to get people peeved enough to do something. Yeah, property tax caps!

Maybe it's time to look at the Indiana Constitution again: to see how interesting it can be.....

2009-11-27 11:43:20

Dave [unverified] said:

Prop 13 isn't exactly working out in California, where they've got a history of exceptions & referenduh that circumvent the "cap."

While he doesn't acknowledge the unconstitutionality of the "catchy" one-two-three; the Speaker does identify another major defect with the mathematically challenged "caps," which are factored by the variability or instability known as "assessments."

The divide 'n conquer, one-two-three gimmick is a departure from any concept of value or equity. "Just because" shouldn't fly with adults.

By failing to adequately detail / identify the problem or monitor any solution, Judge Fisher made things worse. Telling the scoop behind the counter that you "don't want vanilla," is not actionable communication.

2009-11-28 12:42:04

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Dave, you obviously haven't read Judge Fisher's ruling. I have. He correctly identified the problem, and gave the fixers way too long to remedy the situation. He specifically cited assessment inconsistencies.

But, even if he didn't identify all the problems, it is not his responsibility to provide remedies. Our august legislature owns that responsibility--lock, stock and lobbyist.

If only they had the collective cerebral matter. And the will.

2009-11-29 06:13:03

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