At Wednesday’s hearing, Cheryl Musgrave, who heads the state Department of Local Government Finance, said having one professional assessor appointed in each county, rather than 1,008 township assessors and 92 elected county assessors, would be a big step toward providing the consistency and fairness taxpayers want.
Asked by Sen. Mike Delph, R-Indianapolis, if Daniels’ proposed changes would have prevented any of the property tax mess the state experienced this year, Musgrave said: “Yes. It would have made the biggest difference of all.”
Of the 24% average increase in property taxes, only 6% is attributable to local government spending. The remaining 18% was caused by a shift in the tax burden from state to local (the state balanced its budget on the backs of local government) and from business to residential property.
As stAllio! put it:
the governor’s office began mocking local governments because their spending went up. that’s like me pushing you down into the snow and then laughing at your lack of balance.
Update Here is a somewhat related article I read this morning. Senators considering the part of the Governor’s proposal to assume Department of Children’s services expenses are reluctant to do so without having some controls available.
“This is an entitlement program,” said Cathy Graham, with the Indiana Association of Residential Child Care Agencies. “If children are abused or neglected and need to come into care, the state has an obligation to provide that care.”
State-paid county judges make final determinations on what happens to those children and what services they need, such as foster care or counseling.
If State officials are concerned that the current model would give them, as the bill payers, too few controls over how much money is spent, just think of the position local officials are in currently. The State at least has some legislative options for guiding the judges who have to make these tough decisions for abused or neglected children. County officials have much less power.
At the end of the day, neglected kids are really, really expensive. It’s a cost we have to pay both because of moral obligations and because it’s penny-wise but pound-foolish to totally abandon these kids. But the results are mixed and hard to point to and so taxes used to pay for such things will always be a source of resentment.