Pat Andrews of Had Enough Indy once again takes apart the numbers
and catches city officials lying about the budget. This time her fact checking snares Chief of Staff Ryan Vaughn:
... Chief of Staff (aka Mayor) Ryan Vaughn, is reported by John Tuohy of the IndyStar, as having said
Vaughn said tax collections have lagged since passage of property tax
caps in 2008. Next year's property tax revenues will be $63 million less
than in 2008 -- the homestead tax credit and the police tax were a
couple of the only options the city has left to collect additional
money, Vaughn said.
Come on Ryan. Either you know you are pulling a fast one over the
public, or you do not. Neither option is adequate to transparency in
Vaughn specifically picked 2008 for a comparison because that was the
last year before the tax caps program was fully implemented. You don't
have to talk to government officials very long before they are bemoaning
tax caps. I don't want to dismiss all of their claims out of hand.
But - and this is a big 'but' - they never seem to recall the massive
amount of obligations that the State took over, funded by the 1 percent
increase in State sales tax.
In the case of the City-County, the State of Indiana took over funding
of specific obligations that used to cost the City-County over $113 M a
year. For instance, the famous pre-1977 police and fire pensions. This
pension had not had prudent payments made to it over the years and
those public safety folks were beginning to retire in mass. This is the
financial cliff that Peterson was facing when he got the public safety
So, when you subtract the $113 M a year from the 2008 property taxes,
well then Mayor Ballard got quite a golden ticket from the State
Legislature. When you subtract that $113 M a year in obligations, AND
account for tax cap penalties, the City-County collected just about $50 M
more from property taxes in 2014 than in 2008. Yes, I said MORE.
Pat then goes on to provide a graph
for those of us who like pictures:
Below is a graph showing the City-County total property tax levy and the
net levy (total levy minus circuit breaker penalty) from 2008 through
2014. To simplify the jargon, the total levy is what they asked for, the
net levy is what they got. The state took over City-County obligations
in 2009 and the circuit breakers began to hit in 2010.
As you can see, the total property tax levy (what they asked for) and
net levy (what they got) took a real jump in 2009 (The 2008 data is
normalized for the $113M in City-County obligations taken over by the
State in subsequent years so we can compare apples to apples.) Without a
doubt, the initial year of the tax caps was good for the resources of
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