Sunday, July 01, 2007

Demand Answers From City Council Candidates

It appears the city council will likely vote to postpone their decision on whether or not to take advantage of a new state law that would allow them to shift some of the property tax burden onto the income tax. While I don't disagree with this decision, I think it's important for those running for election to go on record about this possible shift in taxes. I have already gone on record as being adamantly opposed to this idea:
let me remind readers that voting for a new tax in hopes of reducing another tax always results in increased taxes. Keep this in mind during future council meetings when you hear the various members tell you how much this will benefit you. It won't. Ultimately it will give local government more money to spend which means you will have less to spend.

However, if there were a way to cap property taxes (indexed to inflation) then I would consider the proposal. Either way if candidates don't go on the record now then the public runs the risk of electing someone that might significantly raise their taxes and their only recourse would be to wait nearly 4 more years before throwing them out. This is unacceptable.

Voters need to demand answers from the candidates and wishy-washy answers are unacceptable as well. They should specifically demand to know under what circumstances the candidates would support the shift in tax burden. They should also demand to know how the candidates plan on keeping the shift revenue neutral.

This, along with the city light fund money, should be two of the top issues for city council candidates...


Robert Enders said...

If I am elected, I will work to reduce spending and cut taxes. But I would support an increase in a progressive tax if it meant a corresponding decrease in a regressive tax. In order to ensure that we get that decrease, I would not vote for the increase unless the decrease was written into the langauge of the same bill.

Karen Goldner said...

The formula that the State has given local governments to raise a progressive tax (income) in order to offset a more regressive one (property), has the result of raising net taxes for nearly everyone. Low income people who own expensive real estate will come out ahead, but everyone else will end up paying more. But at least the General Assembly is giving local governments some options - although in my opinion not very good ones. 1478 was a first step which at least opened the door to local governments being accountable for local decisions.

What City Council needs to do is be more involved with lobbying the General Assembly for REAL fiscal home rule. (And changing the decisionmaking structure so that City Council is not raising taxes for people outside the Fort Wayne city limits would be a good thing, too.)

It's easy to say "cut spending and taxes" - and of course you have to do that. But a lot of the increased tax burden facing City taxpayers has less to do with the City budget than it has to do with reassessment(governed by the state) and state-mandated changes in tax structure. So while Council is watching the budget up here, they also need to be more actively involved with the administration in watching what happens in Indianapolis.

Jeff Pruitt said...


I agree that these are poor choices and the GA should not dictate every detail about local taxes. Unfortunately, we have so many taxing authorities that it's nearly impossible to solve the problem anywhere BUT the state level.

For example even if the city WANTED to cap property taxes, as I've mentioned above, I don't think there is a legal way to do it. FWCS, Allen County, etc would be affected as well. I know they've brought back the TAB but from what I understand that board has no authority whatsoever.

What I would support is an elected TAB that has the power to CAP property taxes and other taxes. Right now there are just too many people w/ their hand in the cookie jar...

Karen Goldner said...

That's my point, Jeff - I am suggesting that State law be changed.