Douglas Walker of the Muncie Star Press has an article about a speech given by Everybody’s Favorite Economist, Larry DeBoer. Professor DeBoer is an economist at Purdue and frequently assists the Indiana General Assembly with property tax matters.
He suggested that Delaware County got hit third hardest by property tax restructuring behind St. Joseph and Lake Counties. The combination of high property taxes and a loss of manufacturers results in Delaware County getting hit hard, and once the impact of the recession ripples through the tax system, the county is going to get hit like a ton of bricks. They have not, apparently, implemented a local option income tax which is the tool given to local governments by the General Assembly for local governments to deal with the General Assembly’s property tax changes. That’s a neat trick by the General Assembly, by the way — they get to “cut” your taxes and leave it to local government to raise them again.
Dealing with the loss of revenue, Muncie has closed two library facilities, closed a fire station, anticipates closing a second fire station, and anticipates laying off 32 other firefighters. So, in a way, Muncie is a little like ancient Alexandria which lost its Great Library to fire. But, in most other respects, obviously, it’s not. I’m sure Alexandria did not have very many great Pizza Kings.
The Library in Muncie has long been run poorly(see Pedigo letter) and the Fire Department has long been over staffed by at least 50% with consequences expressed in one of the highest tax rates in Indiana with the poorest quality of services. Larry is good but on Muncie, he has not done his homework.
Oh, I don’t know that Larry said they should or shouldn’t take these money saving actions. I suspect he wouldn’t express an opinion on that. I think he was just explaining the dollars and cents impact of property tax legislation and local option income tax legislation. What the local government does with its money probably isn’t something he’d get into very much.