Friday, May 31, 2013

Will Marion County Democrats Assist the Republican Mayor and Republican Council Leaders in Their Efforts to Raise Property Taxes

Earlier this month, the Indianapolis City-County Council by a voted of 23-6 vote approved the formation of a bipartisan study commission to consider the possible elimination of the local homestead tax credit.  The measure calling for the study commission was co-sponsored by Council President Maggie Lewis, a Democrat, and Minority Leader Michael McQuillen, a Republican.
Council President Maggie Lewis

The Commission members who ended up being appointed are: Jim Steele, Co-Chair,Beth Henkel, Co-Chair, Bob Lutz, City-County Councillor (R), Vop Osili, City-County Councillor (D),Frank Mascari, City-County Councillor (D), Jack Sandlin, City-County Councillor (R),Chris Pryor, Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors (MIBOR),Dan Sellers, CFO, Health and Hospital Corporation, Joe O’Connor, Marion County Assessor,Jeff Spalding, City Controller's Designee.

It will be interesting to see if the Democrats on the council have learned anything these past few months.  Earlier this year, Democrats and Republicans entered into a budget deal that included a 50% increase in the local car rental tax and 67% increase in the admissions tax.  After the first year, 75% of the money raised from the two tax increases go to the CIB which is currently flush with money.    The Democrats agreed to provide 8 votes to match 8 Republicans in support of those tax increases. That "bipartisanship" ensured that neither party could be held responsible for the tax increases at the polls.  While Democrats, led by Council President Lewis, were letting Republicans off the hook for the CIB tax increases,  Republicans were maneuvering a few blocks away at the Statehouse to increase Republican Mayor Greg Ballard's budgetary powers and to reduce the size of the council by eliminating the four at-large seats that would have undoubtedly been won by the Democrats.

Now the council has the opportunity to eliminate the local homestead tax credit.  Ballard, who actually campaigned in 2007 on the possible elimination of the property tax, supports the elimination of the homestead tax credit which will lead to higher property taxes for many residents.  Republican leaders on the council also support the increase in property taxes via the elimination of the credit.

Council Democrats are in the perfect position to make the Republicans own a property tax increase which would be ironic given the blame voters heaped on Democratic Mayor Peterson for property tax increases in 2007.    Political Strategy 101 says that you make the other side vote en masse for the tax increase while just giving them a handful of votes to pass the measure.

What will be the strategy of Council President Maggie Lewis when the bipartisan commission completes its work and makes its recommendation, undoubtedly for the elimination of the homestead credit, to the Council?  My guess is that Lewis will take again the bait and once again assist Republicans avoid accountability for raising taxes.  I'm not convinced Maggie Lewis could pass a Political Strategy 101 class.


artfuggins said...

There will be 1 to 3 Democratic ouncilors who side with Mayor Ballard. The ones who usually do. I wonder why.

Pete Boggs said...


donnie harris said...

I think that we should keep the home stead credit.I think we should drop the extra charge we charge landlords down to the same as any home owner.They receive this tax from the renter.We need another way to tax residential rentals.

Frank Watson said...

You comment: "I'm not convinced Maggie Lewis could pass a Political Strategy 101 class." I would rather ask "Is Maggie Lewis doing the right thing?"

We need political leaders who are willing to do what is right. It seems to me that the viability of this city depends on some sort of reasonable tax base, and the taxes must come from somewhere.

I think Maggie Lewis is astute enough to anticipate your criticisms. Perhaps we should debate whether this is a good place for some of the money to come from?

Other good questions: "How should the money raised in taxes be spent?" and "How can we avoid the sort of corruption that crept into the Republican Party with Carl Brizzi's Posse.

We need to elect people like Melina Kennedy and reward people like Brian Barton. In fact I believe the Republican Party owes Brian a huge apology and a thank you for publicly supporting Kennedy over Brizzi for prosecutor.

It's time for politicians to focus on doing the right thing and damn the consequences.

Guest said...

The homestead credit should stay. It is not a meager amount to many people as they want you to believe. The 1-2-3 is turning out to be a sham with their "other ways" to raise your property taxes. The other sham is the referendum process which lets them put out half truths as to the cost to the property taxpayer, outright lies and lobby methods from vested interests (some not even residing in Marion County) to get it passed. Tell Ballard and company-NO

Flogger said...

The Democrats and Republicans in Marion County for the most part share the same political genetic code.

Both Parties support the philosophy that the tax payers some making a minimum wage should "contribute" via a tax to build stadiums for Billionaire owners of Professional Sports Teams.

The next election should not provide the false choice of voting for a Party. The ballot box would show for example John Smith or Mary Jones but the Party would be represented by a $ sign, and the name of the Party would be Republicrat.

Going back to the Goldsmith years the Democrats have acted more like docile Koala Bears, then Wolverines.

I was a regular watcher of the Uk's Prime Ministers Questions. I was amazed at the how the opposition party stood up and challenged the Prime Minister. Nothing of sort would happen here.

I am sure the Democrats will line up a "safe" candidate for Mayor, that carries the Crony-Capitalism Gene.

Louis Mahern said...

You might want to check my column which runs today in the IBJ (Behind a paywall). It explains exactly why Maggie Lewis behaves the way she does. As the IBJ says in its headline "Follow the Money."

Jellyweebster said...

Prices at the real estate market live much to be desired. It is doubtful issue if homestead tax credit should be applied because any tax regulation should first of all bring benefits to society. Many people now face difficult financial situations and governmental regulations should help them. Meanwhile here are easy cash advance loans online which are called upon to help people in need.