Friday, July 25, 2014

Evans: Tiny Tax Increase in Porter County Might Not Boost Tax Bill

By John Evans in the Northwest Indiana Times:

I know it is an election year and some officeholders are trying to score political points with the voters. But doing so with scare tactics does nothing but hurt Porter County's efforts to come together to solve our budget challenges.
Last week, the Board of Commissioners held a public hearing on the proposed rate re-establishment for the cumulative capital development fund. I would like to explain what we are doing, why we are doing it, and the impact it will have on taxpayers.
The county's general fund has faced massive pressures over the last few years, primarily because of tax caps. The County Council has been struggling to manage this pressure, yet we still face significant shortfalls.
Part of the council's efforts included commissioning the Umbaugh report, which offered several suggestions that would assist us. One recommendation in the Umbaugh report report was to take the action we considered last week. This is the same Umbaugh report that some council members have demanded we implement, including the council member who has been publicly critical of this proposal.
All we are doing is moving about $825,000 in annual power, water and sewage expenses from the general fund to the more appropriate CCD fund. This will free up that $825,000 in the general fund to help the council manage the budget shortfall.
The impact on taxpayers should be negligible. This action will raise the CCD rate by 0.4 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. For a home with an assessed valuation of $150,000 that has homestead and standard deductions, that translates to an additional 25 cents a month. And taxpayers who have already hit the property tax cap won't even pay the additional 25 cents.
For those who don't want to pay an extra 25 cents a month, we don't think you will have to. The county has paid off the juvenile detention center bond, and the annual assessment property owners have been paying for that bond will be gone. That should offset the 0.4 cents increase in the CCD fund we are proposing. In other words, that should negate the extra 25 cents a month more you would pay.