Thursday, May 29, 2014

Times Reports Lake County Tax Collections Make Most Local Officials Smile

From the Northwest Indiana Times:

Lake County Treasurer John Petalas is giving thanks for healthy tax collections this spring.
"We received $269,773,197 or 91 percent of our first tax installments paid. There may still be some stragglers who might push the total up to 92 percent," he said Tuesday.
The money will be distributed to 79 county, municipal, township, school and special government districts across the county.
Petalas said collections were strong throughout the county with the exception of Gary, where collections were less than 71 percent of the full tax levy.
He said Gary numbers are typically low because of abandoned properties or owners who decline to pay their tax bills.
"There were close to 10,000 vacant and abandoned properties on the tax rolls, but we aren't collecting and mostly likely never will.
"The ones whose owners won't pay go up on tax sale. Sometimes those are sold to a new owner, but most of the time they are redeemed by their current owners, but they often go into arrears again for the next two years."
The next tax sale hasn't been scheduled, but usually is in early autumn.
Property owners can thank the state's circuit-breaker system that saved them from having to pay more than $87 million in potential property taxes this year, according to a recent report of the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance.
The circuit-breaker system caps the taxes that can be collected from any individual parcel in most cases at 1 percent of residential property value, 2 percent of rental property value and 3 percent of business property value.
Landlords and merchants received 90 percent of the property tax relief while homeowners got less than $9 million in tax reductions.
Local government has less to cheer about the circuit breaker since the taxpayers' gains come at the expense of county, municipal, township and school budgets.
Gary suffered the greatest losses, more than $47 million in denied taxes, followed by East Chicago with more than $15 million in losses and Hammond with more than $9 million.