Next Tuesday I Will Be The Party Of “No”

by Curt Kovener

Though I will tell you now it is going to pass, I (along with economist Morton Marcus whose Letter to the Editor appears in this issue) will vote “No” on the ballot question of placing property tax caps into the Indiana Constitution.
It is curious to me that we elect officials who take an oath to uphold the constitution then they set about to change it to their liking.
For those of you who haven’t kept up-to-date, two different legislatures (barely) passed a constitutional question to limit residential property taxes to 1% of an owner-occupied home’s assessed value. Property taxes would be capped at 2% for apartments and rentals; businesses would have a 3% cap of the assessed value. Since it passed the legislature twice, now voters get to vote.
And the misled populace will vote in favor not realizing what they are doing to themselves and their children and grandchildren.
But here in this area it won’t make a tinker’s durn because the majority of owner-occupied homes in the newspaper’s readership area are nowhere near paying one percent of their assessed value. If you vote “Yes” on the question on the back of next Tuesday’s ballot thinking your property taxes will never go up, I have some sad news.
Oh yes, they will.
Let’s take a home assessed for $100,000. That would mean that home’s taxes would be capped at $1,000. But right now, homeowners who live in their home enjoy a $45,000 homestead exemption…an annual tax abatement, if you will… from their assessed value.
So this home might currently only pay $550 a year in property taxes which could escalate to $1,000 before any constitutional tax caps kick in.
For some folks property taxes could nearly double before they reach the 1% threshold. Doesn’t that thought help you sleep better about constitutional tax caps?
The tax caps will help landlords and businesses. The non-local owners of apartments and rental homes will be pleased that they won’t have to pay as much for our school, fire & police protection and ambulance & library services.
Our businesses and industries who have shared the majority of the tax burden, will be paying less as they “cap out”.
So all of that means there will be less money for those services on which we rely. It is easy to say government should cut the fat…except when it is your fat that is being carved up.
So, tell me, how much less government can you do without? Less police protection? Less prosecution of those arrested? How about less jail time for those convicted? You willing to wait an extra 15-20 minutes for the fire truck to arrive at your burning home? And if that thought gave you a heart attack there may be an even longer wait for the ambulance to arrive.
I rather think that when it comes to cutting government services “Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die.”
As you grouse about paying your property taxes (which, by the way, the fall installment is due in a couple of weeks on Nov. 10) remember that except for a few pennies of your bill that goes to the state forestry, every dime you pay at the courthouse stays here in your county to pay for those government services we claim we need…but just don’t like to pay for.