"The Official Portrait of Miss InDiana"

"The Official Portrait of Miss InDiana"
aka "Miss Victory"

Monday, February 11, 2008

Ballard testifies this morning before state legislators

Abdul Hakim Shabazz reports on Indiana Barrister blog:

"Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard is testifying this morning before the House Ways & Means Committee on the Governor’s Circuit breaker plan which would put hard caps on property tax assessments.

Ballard told the committee he supports the caps in the wake of eliminating property taxes. However, he also said the best thing the state could do is give Marion County the tools it needs to solve its own problems. Those tools include government consoldation (particularly the township fire and trustee offices).

State Representative Peggy Welsh asked if the Mayor would support an increase in the Local Option Income Tax to offset the tax caps. Ballard told her it would not fly in Marion County. Ballard also told the committee he is also looking at saving from not renewing some large city contracts and reviewing city processes.

Ballard also said the state could help out by picking up the costs of the city’s police and fire pensions which cost the taxpayers about $26 million last year.

Committee Chairman Bill Crawford pointed out the revenue losses from a number of city agencies such as Indy Go, the Library and Health and Hospital. The agencies would lose about $16 million under the tax caps, however a more telling story is that the Mayor does not have direct control over each of these municipal corporations which are allowed to spend the taxpayers money with no real direct accountability. This, in my opinion, is an even bigger issue.
And despite the “cuts” Representative Jeff Espich pointed out that government will still grow at an average four percent a year, so over a three-year period, with an average of a five percent cut in government funding, the locals would still come out ahead with seven percent more of the taxpayers money. The cut, Espich says, is a one time loss.

The committee did not take a vote on the bill.

In retrospect though, all this continues to prove to me that there is too much government in Indiana and it’s time for sharp cuts and bigger consolidation and let the chips fall where they may."

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