As the General Assembly heads into the fourth week of session, property tax caps remain front and center. House Joint Resolution 1, an amendment to permanently cap property taxes, passed through the House by a vote of 75-23 and passed the Senate by a vote of 35-15. Now that the constitutional amendment has passed two separately elected bodies of the Indiana General Assembly, Hoosier voters will have the final say on whether to add permanent, constitutional property taxpayer protection to the state constitution. Some people have praised me, some have been upset with me, but no one can be surprised that I was one of the 23 members that voted against the caps on final passage. From the beginning of the property tax cap debate, I have been very open and forthcoming with my reasons for not lending my support for the caps.
But now, the final say is in your hands-the Hoosier voters. Now, more than ever, I am encouraging you to get involved in the debate and figure out if these caps are what you have been wishing for.
For example, I had a constituent recently contact me about the caps. This individual's property was valued at $99,630. After $65,000 in homestead and mortgage exceptions, his property had a $33,710 taxable value, which means he paid $544.34 in property taxes in 2009. This particular constituent is not at the one percent cap yet. In order for the one percent cap to affect him, he would have to pay at least $996 in property taxes-that is double what he currently pays.
Also, keep in mind what your property taxes are paying for. I don't know if this individual has children in our local school corporation, but $386.36 of the $544.34 from his property tax bill would go to our schools-leaving roughly $157.77. From the $157.77, subtract $35.97 to go to the district conservancy (drainage).
Using what is left, to give you a better perspective, this individual paid less than 43 cents a day to go toward our fire and police protection, county jail, courts, libraries and poor relief, to just name a few. Nowadays, you cannot even buy a can of pop for 43 cents.
My argument is simple, look at your property tax statements from last year.
When you cap property taxes, you potentially could be taking funds away from our local services (as previously mentioned). In light of the caps, the General Assembly has given counties the authority to consider and pass a local option income tax to make up any difference in revenue that they may lose from the property tax caps. Are you okay with this, because you could possibly be lowering one tax only to pay a higher tax somewhere else?
The language that will be on the November ballot, asking Hoosiers if they support putting permanent property tax caps into our state's constitution, is currently being debated.
So for now, I am asking you to educate yourselves and be careful what you vote on before you go to the polls in November. The "1-2-3 caps" is a great slogan, but will it really affect the amount of property taxes you pay?
As I have said before, I take this job seriously. Talking to my constituents and sharing information is something I take very seriously because I want to know where you stand on issues. When I was sworn in as your state representative, I didn't swear an allegiance to anyone but you-not to any speaker, leader or caucus.
If you have any questions or concerns, I always encourage you to contact me so I can help you in any way I can. You can contact me by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 1-800-382-9841 or by writing me at the Statehouse, 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204.