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WHAT GOVERNMENT REFORM?

I knew it was too good to be true. There it was, a property tax crisis of near Biblical proportion. Citizens were mad; politicians were scared, real change was a possibility.  And then, my world of reform started to turn into dust.

Over in the Indiana State Senate, the new policy has become protecting fellow elected officials rather than look out for the taxpayers. Amendments to government reform legislation will leave the township assessors intact in Marion County, as well as the small claims courts and would only allow a referendum to decide whether a County Executive should replace County Commissioners.

To add insult to injury, on the House side of the Capitol building there’s talk that any effort to eliminate township trustees is dead as well as fire consolidation in Marion County.

This is ridiculous! The taxpayers have demanded lawmakers get their act in gear and deliver real reform. You cannot have real meaningful reform unless you eliminate the government that raises the taxes. The culprits behind all this are Conservative Republican Senator Mike Young and Liberal Democrat Representative Bill Crawford. Young wants to protect the Assessor and Crawford the Trustees.

The funny thing is neither of these guys agrees on much of anything because of their respective political philosophies, but I guess when it comes to protecting your friends and ignoring the property taxpayers, both walk arm in arm.

  • Leon Dixon

    Township assessors? How did they become the scapegoat for the legislature and legislatures past? Government schools, mismanaged by the Legislature (spending, spending, spending some 60% of the budget for crappy results) are the Elephant in the room along with their drunken spending that violates Article 13 of our Constitution (aided by the borrow and spend now and let the future take care of itself legislature who, when the crows come home to roost point the finger at township assessors?”
    You need a better persepective on this and a graph or two that will demonstrate that old concept of proportion. Any time any Indiana legislator talks of quality education he is talking prospectively or he is a liar.

  • JW

    I sincerely hope people around the state take notice of these power-play shenanigans on BOTH sides of the aisle and vote appropriately this May and November.

  • varangianguard

    Send the township offices to Conner Prairie, where they belong (in the 19th century).

    Couple more years of this and legislators should probably take a few minutes to read up on the French Revolution. Perhaps, they’ll learn what happens to people who say “let them eat cake”.

  • Shorebreak

    What percentage of overall revenue in Indiana goes to township offices? I’ve heard that it’s a small figure, but I don’t know what the specific number is.
    Anyone?

  • max

    What about the GOP tanking the property tax bill by adding the Marriage Discrimination Amendment to it.

    I applauded their fiscal responsibility and thought maybe a bi-partisan effort might improve things for tax payers. Thanks for playing politics with the tax payers futures folks. People are finacially hanging on by a thread and this is the crap they pull.
    Daniels needs to give his people a hard thump in the head for this.

    God, I cannot wait to vote this year.

  • http://www.hoosiersforfairtaxation.com Melyssa

    Dave Bond was EXCELLENT on the show this morning. I hope Chris puts up his interview for podcast.

    We published the ‘GIT LIST’ of senators who are for/against the The People on http://www.OneTaxBillForHomeless.com and on the Hoosiers For Fair Taxation blog.

    Other bloggers are welcome to publish it too. Together, we must take back our government from cronyism.

  • Eric_N_Indy

    What a surprise. We need a Constitutional Convention. That is the only way real change will ever come about.

  • Shorebreak

    Eric – I beg to differ. Who do you think will be orchestrating such a convention? You, or the one’s holding the purse strings?

  • Snark

    Of course, this is the same legislature that can’t believe taxpayers are damn pissed when its elected reps roll over into lobbyists…..

    Let’s throw the bums out!

    (Of course, then we’ll just get new bums. As the late Harrison Ullman used to write, Hoosiers have the legislature we deserve.)

  • M

    The legislators said no to property tax elimination.
    Then they said no to property tax elimination for homeowners.
    They are now in the process of dismantling and destroying Governor Daniels one- two -three plan.
    When I said they cannot be trusted, everyone said that can’t be true.
    I’m telling you people- get yourself a sign and show up Feb 1, noon at the statehouse and let them know you are the taxpayers and they need to shape up.
    No more property taxation on phantom income–that is what they tax you for–not earned income- the value of your home taxed and paid yearly is taxation on phantom income……

  • Jon G

    Once again the politicians don’t take us seriously. Their arrogance dumbfounds me.
    Every last one of them should call Bart and ask him how he felt on election night. What it’s boiling down to is that they, the politicians think “we, the people” are “we, their children.” Our voices will be heard in May And November.

    Remember November ’07

  • Greg

    I will cross over if needed in November to vote for the democrat as I will not allow incumbents back into office who are not looking out for the people. All people who vote traditional party lines, republican or democrat, need to band together to get new people in office. Party lines at this point in time will not matter. The message we send will. Please, Please, revolt.

  • Meltdown!

    I used to favor property tax reform, now I hope it doesn’t happen. I want total repeal or keep things as they are. With any luck, we will have New Detroit soon enough. Will the urban Democrat elites stay in the city in their $250K+ homes once the moderates and conservatives flee to the burbs?

    This country is a joke. Our entire economy is based upon service and people spending money they don’t have. Government is no different. The coming collapse will be glorious to behold!

  • Really

    Hey Abby Dull, first Nick Weber (Economic director with no clue what economics is) and Sarah Taylor (Ms. Yes Woman), now Tobias. I wonder if there will be an escort service at the airport

    Tobias tapped for Airport Authority leader

    Updated: Jan 29, 2008 01:15 PM EST

    Tobias tapped for Airport Authority leader

    Indianapolis – Mayor Greg Ballard wants a former Eli Lilly president to be the new leader of the Indianapolis Airport Authority.

    According to our partners at The Indianapolis Star, Ballard plans to appoint Randall Tobias.

    Tobias stepped down suddenly from his post as deputy secretary of state and director of US foreign assistance last year after being connected to a Washington escort service.

    Tobias said he would accept the appointment from Ballard and looked forward to the opportunity to serve the community.

  • Becky

    Abdul, come on you know better than that! It’s not the assessors that screwed this whole thing up. Nor are they the ones spending the money. I don’t believe taxpayers are stupid enough to believe this is the assessor’s fault!

  • watching the sheep

    I don’t understand why the school systems get a pass on this one, there the ones who spend taxpayers money like a drunken sailor, oh my the way, the teachers union has a direct tunnel to the State house, the people need to know this.

  • bb

    Mmm Hmm. And hizzoner (?) Ballard also appoints the Simon’s lawyer Bob Grand as head of the CIB. No insider trading there, I’m sure.

    Ethics, smethics!

  • Shorebreak

    Good find, Really.
    Tobias has years worth of experience as playing the role of “Fox gaurding the henhouse” so to speak. This is not a good sign for the Ballard Administration.
    Someone influenced Ballard to hand over the position.
    Why the Indianapolis airport?

  • Taxpayer 327469

    It appears the biggest problem isn’t taxation, but representation. Despite months of protests in the streets, bipartisan recomendations, and a very telling Mayoral election, Senators Lawson & Young, and Representatives Bauer & Crawford refuse to cooperate without extracting their pound of flesh. Taxpayers of both parties must ensure these “public servants” meet their appropriate reckoning come election day.

  • Taxpayer

    Every member of the General Assembly should have a picture of Bart Peterson on their desks to remind them of what happens when politicians completely ignore the will of The People.

  • Think Again

    Township assessors are the front line in one-half of the equation: proper records and initial assessment of your home.

    The collective impact is impossible to under-estimate: 1100 persons, with probably 200 or more different criteria.

    Uniformity in assessment, statewide, is our only answer. It cannot and will not come via township assessors.

    I am a real estate professional, and I can tell you, there are no two township assessors who assess the same way. Yeah, they have manuals from which they’re supposed to be guided.

    But the largest township in the state just elected a school janitor as their assessor. That kind of political cronyism has to go, and the only way to do it, is to cut the number to 92–one for each county.

    It’s easier for 92 to hold hands than 1100.

    It’s also smarter, if we want anything approaching uniformity. The Kernan-Sheppard Commission agreed.

    Sen. Lawson should be ashamed. Sen. Young demonstrated long ago he has no shame. What a tool.

  • JW

    I received a survey in the mail from Bosma right before the start of this session and I swear he didn’t freaking listen to anyone. . .most of my neighbors out here in Fishers/Geist don’t give a rats cheek about gay marriage ESPECIALLY in light of the annexation efforts by Fishers in the interest of added tax revenue and bonding ability.

  • Becky

    Think Again, There are not 1100 township assessors, there are 181 most of whom have better (more) credentials than the county assessors. If they are suppose to take the blame for the tax mess then you sir should accept the blame for the foreclosure debacle. When was the last time you told someone they couldn’t afford the house they wanted to buy?
    Maybe you need to take a lesson on the difference between a real estate appraisal and mass appraisal.

  • Wilson46201

    The Center Township Assessor never was a janitor: his previous job was managing a workforce of 515 employees at the Indiana’s largest school system. Running his staff of 25 nowadays is a bit easier…

  • Think Again

    Becky: I don’t do houses. I do commercial real estate. I fully understand appraisal, probably much better than you, in addition to my real estate license. I know the difference, believe me. I’ve dealt with township assessors across this state. Therefore, I bear no responsibility for the foreclosure mess. Frankly, as an elected township assessor, you really shouldn’t open that can of worms. It’ll explode all over you. Rising home values are a key component to that foreclosure debacle. If lessons are needed, it’s you who need one: in basic market economics. Ergo: if home values cannot be relied upon, lenders are lost. Not that they can’t get lost on their own…but current and predictable rising market value is a primary indicator of mortgage reliability. So, if you’ve had your fingers in that pot for awhile, you need to go hang your head in shame somewhere. If amrket values drop, your assessment needs to reflect same. Rarely do they. Wanna walk through the records of any township assessor with me, and find 15-20% of properties, minimally, that are improperly assessed? With basic math errors, and square footage horrible amiss?

    I can count on two hands the good township assessors I’ve dealt with in this state. I think they, and their staffs, want to do the right job. But so few are properly trained and ahve the require dbackground to do the job. It should not be an on-the-job learning experience. Go peddle your job protection nonsense elsewhere. Taxpayers are tired of it. And the 1100 was the total number of township officials. Sorry for that error.

    Wilson–the fact remains, Gene Akers, at the time of his election, was the “head” janitor. He was elected because he kissed the ring of the Center Gulag and he had zero qualifications. Another candidate had proper certification as an appraiser, but because she didn’t kiss the ring, she wasn’t favored. The number of janitors he supervised, while an important job, has nothing to do with it. You really don’t want to hold up IPS as a model of bureaucratic efficiency, do you? His election was a crime.

    And one of the primary reasons this decrepit system has to go. Do you really want warmed-over head janitors assessing your property? Huh?

    You’ll love having an auto mechanic work on your molars.

  • Becky

    “If market values drop, your assessment needs to reflect that” you need a lesson in assessing. Per the rules set forth by the Department of Local Government Finance our assessments have not been current time. We can only to what the law allowes us to do. Are there crappy assessors? Sure there are, but then there are also crappy realtors.
    I have no problem with eliminating township assessors but I WANT IT DONE RIGHT! Transferring the duties to a county assessor will not accomplish a fairer or more equitable system. I presented a consolidation that would have eliminated elected township assessors. It would have taken politics out of assessments, but was pretty much ignored by the legislature.

  • Think Again

    Becky, I don’t have to have “real” or “current” time valuations. And I don’t need an assessing lesson. Don’t mask the problem.

    Hell, I’ll settle for: accurate description of property improvements, proper measurements on those improvements, and values within three years. Values using comps and consistent assessing methods.

    I know the market. I can do the math on the three years leading up to the transaction. Just get me in the ballpark. I cna adjsut up or down based on market conditions.

    I know full well what the DLGF tells township assessors. In writing and in person. By the way, do you think the DLGF would mind if the valuations were current-time? Hell no they wouldn’t, IF the assessments were done properly.

    It really is a mess statewide, and if you cannot admit that, then you’re part of the problem. Because real estate values are one of the core denominators in our entire economic system, the valuations should be done properly. Why are we entrusting that to a township elected official with no requirements whatsoever?

    Well, come to think of it…this IS a state that lets a freaking chiropractor become coroner. So anything’s possible.

    Trained professional assessors/valuators is the only answer. I don’t have a clue whether that would cost more or less than the current system, and I don’t care. We need to pay the cost of doing it properly–so much is based on successful, consistent property assessment and valuation. One countywide elected official to oversee the professional process seems about right, but I’d listen to other ideas.

    Now, you cannot get consistent assessments in neighboring Marion County townships, let alone statewide.

  • thundermutt

    How, when Marion County alone has nine township assessors, can the whole state of 92 counties have only 181 in total?

    Oh…wait. Some counties don’t HAVE township assessors? How does that work?

  • http://www.hoosiersforfairtaxation.com Melyssa

    Can someone explain how Rep. Bill Crawford sits on the board of Shrewsberry engineering company? They are a certified minority business enterprise with a long list of government contracts. This is a huge conflict of interest.

  • Think Again

    Oh Melyssa, honey, didn’t you get the memo? The Center Township Democratic gang doens’t have to comply with rules. It’s their world, and we’re just passing through.

    Evidence?

    Try: 300 East, Carl Drummer’s free storage and take-home unmarked police cruiser, 300 East again just because it was so outrageous, Andre Carson (just because Julia said so on her deathbed). I could go on, but you get the point.

  • MissouriDemocrat

    Mely what a perfect reason to vote out every incumbent either democrat or republican. Until this grass roots effort gets organized in every county in this state we will be subjected to the worst legislature in the nation, the most corrupt politicians of both parties. I know some are even disappointed that Ballard is turning out to favor the old republican cronies of the past. We should have expected that….. none of them are honest.

  • Wilson46201

    Melyssa should dig up a candidate to run against Bill
    Crawford in his District. His constituents are so satisfied with his performance that he hardly ever has an opponent in the elections…