For most of the Wishard referendum debate, I’ve basically been neutral. I understand the need for building a new facility, but I also understand the taxpayers have been burned on projects like the Library and Lucas Oil Stadium. I’ve heard arguments on both sides and critically watched presentations by both proponents and opponents. However, it was a letter that came in the mail to my wife the other day that took me off the fence. It was her property tax bill.
She was glad that due to tax caps her bill had virtually been cut in half since 2007. I decided to do a little closer inspection and look at each unit of government and how much they were taking, specifically Health and Hospital. The Health and Hospital portion of her bill has dropped 112% since 2007 and only made up 7% of her current tax bill. When I saw that, I decided the Wishard referendum works for me.
Many opponents of the referendum say they are concerned the bonds Wishard wants to float will be backed by property taxes and if’ Wishard’s revenue stream, which is funded in part by its nursing home revenue, is disrupted it will result in a tax increase. I think the criticism is legitimate, but not fatal.
Let’s assume the worse and there’s a 10% increase in the Health and Hospital portion of my wife’s tax bill to pay for the construction. By my count, she’s forking over an extra $4 a year. She spends $4 a day on Starbucks. A good glass of scotch will cost me $8. I think we can afford it. And to put it in even more perspective that $4 increase comes in the heels of more than $600 in property tax deductions she now enjoys due to the caps.
However, I doubt things would even get that far. In order for there to be a tax increase, Health and Hospital would have to go to the City-County Council and get permission since it is a municipal corporation. And I don’t see anyone on the Council approving a property tax increase for the Hospital. If anything, I see more scrutiny in Wishard’s future as Councilors will be watching closely and monitoring cost overruns. And the public should be there as well, watching and paying attention and holding officials accountable.
Like I said, I started out in neutral and after looking at how under the worse case scenario a 10% increase in Health and Hospital translates into a less than a penny a day from our combined income, Wishard is something we can live with. Now there are some people that taking a penny is too much and they are free to vote their beliefs. But for us, it’s no big deal.