David Bottorff, executive director of the Indiana Association of Counties and Towns, has a column explaining that the counties are not particularly responsible for the spike in property taxes. First, he explains that venting in the county treasurer’s office doesn’t do you a lot of good. You should go to someone who can do something about your problem.
If taxpayers want to complain about spending, they should attend a meeting of a local fiscal body that can actually do something about it. If your property assessment needs adjusted, you should contact your county assessor. If you need to file an exemption you should contact your auditor.
He also explains that county operating budget increases are capped at 4% per year. This increase is offset to some extent by increases in assessed value so tax rates generally remain flat or increase by a rate less than 4%. Capital projects can cause increases in property taxes – but these are subject to remonstrances. County taxpayers have the opportunity to object when these projects are proposed. That’s about the extent of the county responsibility.
“Trending” is another reason for the recent spike.
Trending, or annual assessed value increases, increased the taxable assessed value of homes for taxes payable this year. For neighborhoods with increasing home values, the tax liability is expected to increase. This year homeowners experienced the result of having several years of increased home values hit all at once. Such adjustments will now be made on an annual basis.
The legislature also exempted inventory from taxation. This results in a shift of the tax burden from businesses to homeowners. This might make sense from an economic development standpoint, but it’s still an increase to residential homeowners.
Mr. Bottorff makes the following recommendation:
Repealing property taxes is not the answer; however, reducing the government services that rely on property taxes has merit. There are some services that are more appropriately funded through a statewide tax, such as the school general fund or protecting children from abuse and neglect (family and children property tax fund). These types of services reflect state policies and not a local policy.
It makes plenty of sense to suggest that state policies should be paid for with state taxes.