Center Township shenanigans

Dateline: Wed 27 Mar 2013

Blog reader, independent researcher and thoughtful citizen Eugene Fisk contacted several Indy blogs with some timely observations, which I think are worthy of sharing...and as an aside, after I read this, I was reminded of the quip from Justice Clarence Thomas, to paraphrase, when they say "urban renewal" they mean "Negro removal."

Here is Fisk:

"I don't intend to make this a habit but since I don't have a blog I wanted to share something I just noticed about Center Township Property Taxes. Assessments in many areas of the city have risen dramatically this year. The area just northeast of Old Northside has been hit hard.  Example, 1628 Bellefontaine was recently listed for sale on MLS at $12,500; its assessment just went from 38k to 57k. Assessed valuation of some vacant lots in the area have been raised from 5k to 25k, absent any evidence of increased market value.

"Check out this listing:

Assessed value on that run-down double just increased from $131,200 to $160,700, though it's listed for $9,900. A 16:1 ratio of 'assessed:real' value is a record in my book.

"(Tinfoil hat time) The goal of the downtown mafia is to rid historic areas of poor black people, to make way for the well-connected. This is the sole purpose of the IHPC, judging just by results. After all, this is the city that passed a law in the 1920's saying black people could not live north of 30th Street. An early step by the City to encourage 'gentrification', is to jack up the property taxes in areas bordering historic neighborhoods; this raises the 'carry cost' on those living there, encouraging them to move elsewhere. I expect the Carrollton/Bellefontaine area is targeted by IHPC as a new historic area. Houses in historic neighborhoods appreciate in value, leading to more property tax revenue. Increased revenue is the City's sole goal these days.

"Property taxes are one cash grab, there are others. 
  • The City used to own a useful asset - a water/sewer utility, which it sold as a component of a phantom tax increase. Indy got $262 (not $425) million in the deal, which it's using to fix roads. Fort Wayne sold a utility recently as well, this one electric. What to do with all that cash ? That city will subsidize union construction jobs, via pointless public works projects.  And like Indy, that city has a homicide problem. This scheme of selling off valuable assets to grab revenue is being played out across the country; the Toll Road lease was a prime example. The scheme benefits big business and labor unions, a combination that cannot be beat. Basic services suffer in this process.
  • Another phantom tax increase was documented first by Gary Welsh - the ridiculous fire code self-inspections. Last month I contacted appropriate city officials about the legality of this, and still no reply. The intent of this scheme was to grab a million a year in cash thru self-inspection fees, without the expense to the City of conducting the inspections.
"Thank you for reading."


hendy [Member] said:

I'm with Mr Fisk. After reading Tully's description of the corruption of the legislature, I'm ready to believe anything. The regentrification projects pit lots of interests against the poor. Sure, it increases the tax base. But tax base isn't what life is all about.

2013-03-27 14:53:26

Gary Welsh [unverified] said:

It's hard to fathom how a trained assessor could place the values it is placing on some of these properties, but the problem Mr. Fisk points up is pervasive. I ascribe it to a mix of incompetence and a desire to artificially prop up the tax base more than racial redlining. They appear to be relying on faulty sales data and not bothering to visually inspect the properties as they reassess them. For one thing, they simply throw out all the distressed sales data, which is very problemmatic in areas where the foreclosure rate is very high. Instead, they will rely on sales data that is currently eschewed by outlier sales. In my condo building, the assessor's office inexplicably increased assessments across-the-board by about 30% a little over four years ago, even though everyone knew sales prices were falling. For four straight years they refused to trend our assessments downward, even though everyone appealed their assessments. It took us four years to finally get our appeals acted upon and our assessments lowered to come into line with the fair market value of our condos. The assessor's office excuse--they used the wrong multiplier. The problem is only getting worse because there continues to be many distressed residential properties in Marion County. Yet there are pocket areas where nicer homes are in high demand and commanding good prices. So now they're relying on the sales of those better homes to define the trending in valuing everyone else's homes in the area whether that's a reflection of a home's fair market value or not. In Mr. Fisk's example, if someone from the assessor's had simply drove by the double in question, they would have never put anywhere near that kind of assessment on it. There really is no excuse for this. We got rid of the township assessors so we could professionalize the assessment process. Unfortunately, the assessor's office is really falling down on its job badly. If the assessor valued residential property across the board fairly in Marion County right now, the schools and local government units would probably go bankrupt. Perhaps there is pressure from above to keep the assessments artificially high to avoid a financial meltdown for these local units of government and the schools.

2013-03-27 18:04:53

Gary Welsh [unverified] said:

Another area that needs to be addressed is the city's administration of its unsafe building program. If you have a real dick for a neighbor, they will call out these inspectors who will make demands for repair and improvement to older homes that are beyond belief. I helped a disabled man in a marginal eastside neighborhood who made the mistake of complaining about the drug dealer next door to cops. Besides getting beaten up and having his life threatened, the drug dealer neighbor called the city and an inspector came out and ordered him to replace his roof, repair his porch, repair his foundation, repair siding on the alley-facing side of his home and even replace an old sidewalk that ran along the side of the house. By the time he came to me, the city had assessed him $8,000 in fines. He spent about $15,000 on repairs and, against my advice, paid the $8,000 fine. The city still wasn't satisfied. He drops dead of heart attack and his 80-year old father who lives 200 miles away was left trying to wrap up his estate for him. The city would not back off any of its demands for the repairs to the home. You could drive up and down that street and find any number of homes in as bad or worse condition. The father practically had to give away a house that was assessed for about $30,000 for practically nothing to get it off his hands. I'm sure the assessor's office didn't reduce the assessment to the actual price he got for the home.

Over near my neighborhood, check out the back side of the Chatterbox on Mass Ave. The owner attempted to make repairs to his building years ago without getting the necessary permits. The city put a stop work order on it. The back part of the building is a total trash heap, poses serious unsafe conditions and public health concerns, not to mention becoming a neighborhood eyesore. Dozens of complaints have been made to the city, but the city's unsafe building inspectors say their hands are tied because the mayor's office won't let them take action against the building's owner because he's very supportive of their agenda for Mass Ave and is the head of the Mass Avenue business owners association. When it rains, water pours down into the bar area. There are open holes where rodents can easily gain access to the building and apparently do. One of the other bar owners in town told me that he couldn't figure out how the place passes health inspections.

2013-03-27 18:28:56

Gene Poole [unverified] said:

Contrary to claim, Indiana does not promote stability of property ownership or predictable tax structure; hence Mr. Fisk's evidence of the ongoing problem.

Mr. Fisk exposes a statewide, ongoing sham of Indiana's property tax "reform." There is no standard (DLGF). There is no reform. Unfortunately, there is no party of small government.

Hoosier taxpayers are perennial victims of legacy rustlers posing themselves as empathetic "representatives." There's little difference between Cyprus banking & the Indiana property tax system; same fame 'n fortuned survival of government at the expense of citizens, same appeals process, same results.

Years of content weak, deficit journalism are likewise a part of this knuckle bumping, legacy rustling problem; ever reacting to "deals" made within the GA, rarely responding or considering the critics of those deals with a proportional level of attention and / or metrics.

Sooner than most think, Cyprus & NZ will be joined by Italy, Spain & France in the demise of the Euro. Stealing cash & property from citizens is preferable to reducing the inhumane, morbid proportion of government.

In America, overwhelming the consent of the governed with schemes of hyperscription exceeding deliberative process (aka "lawmaking") & affording plausible deniability cover to the good intentions of legacy rustlers- is not representative government! It's too much government, doing too much.

2013-03-27 20:54:17

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