FLOYD COUNTY —
Consider this about tax caps vote
I wish to share with The Tribune’s readership the following statements from the Indiana Library Federation, the Indiana Urban Schools Association, the Indiana PTA, the Association of Indiana Counties, Sustainable Libraries Coalition, Central Indiana Jobs with Justice, the NAACP Indianapolis Branch 3053 and several educators.
It is time for Hoosiers to educate themselves, do research and look deeper into the issue of permanently placing property tax caps into the state’s constitution. Voters will be asked to respond to this issue on the Nov. 2 ballot. Here are some points to consider:
Popular Misconception: While the word “caps” may entice property owners into thinking their taxes won’t increase, that is not the case. It is a cap on the taxes paid relative to the assessed value of the home. The assessed value can still rise.
Truth: While many property-tax initiatives are politically popular, they often mask a hidden truth — the revenue lost likely leads to increases in many other kinds of taxes and user fees.
Current: Caps are already in effect — they are in statute — having been enacted by the General Assembly. Libraries, schools, cities and towns, counties and other local units are already operating under the 1 percent, 2 percent, 3 percent limits. It is unnecessary to vote them into the Constitution. The caps will not guarantee homeowners’ property taxes decrease.
Future: Understand that if the amendment is approved by your vote on Nov. 2, it will take about five years to remove, if, subsequently, it is judged to be too restrictive. We urge voters to appreciate the need for flexibility for all local government units.
Elected local officials, library directors, staff, educators and others involved in delivering necessary services at the local level have urged caution. The more prudent approach is to wait and see how significantly the statutory 1 percent, 2 percent and 3 percent caps impact the delivery of needed services.
Fact: Everyone wishes for lower taxes, but few want the consequent reductions in services. Citizens value good schools, good streets, quality libraries, emergency services, police protection and livable communities; property taxes are by far the most significant revenue stream which supports these services.
Consequence: Placing tax caps into the constitution will result in some unintended consequences. You can expect user fees, fines, penalties and probably more regulatory fees to proliferate in your daily life, due to loss of revenue. The statutory caps have already resulted in local units experiencing decreases of millions of dollars for schools, libraries and other services.
It is unnecessary to vote them into the constitution, because they are already law.
That is why it is important for you to do research and think about the result of your vote on Public Question #1 on the Nov. 2 ballot.
— Steve Day, New Albany-Floyd County Public Library Director, New Albany
Reader: Letter on Senate race lacked facts
I read with interest Mr. John Wilcox’s letter, regarding the race for State Senate in The Tribune. Given the gravity of this year’s election, however, I find it necessary to interject a few facts.
Ron Grooms was accused of voting to give himself a pension. If Mr. Wilcox would check the facts, he would see that no Jeffersonville elected official is eligible for a state pension. In fact, a member of Mr. Wilcox’s party brought forward a measure to make the city council eligible, which was wisely defeated in a bipartisan fashion by a tally of one to six.
Furthermore, just how many state pensions is Chuck Freiberger trying to earn? Does he get one for his years on the county council and one for his time as a county commissioner?
Of course, he will get one from the Teachers’ Retirement Fund (TERF). If elected, I assume he would accept the legislative retirement package, as well. He’s racking up pensions like they are merit badges!
Mr. Wilcox accuses Mr. Grooms of voting himself a laptop computer. Again, the facts do not work in the Democratic chairman’s favor. The Jeffersonville City Council was asked to carry city-owned laptops to increase efficiency in government and save taxpayer resources. These used laptops are loaned to council members and clearly marked as city property.
Surely, Mr. Wilcox would not impugn his candidate for using a computer owned by the school corporation in the conduct of his employment or disparage the number of children who use computers daily in their education.
Then again, Mr. Wilcox eschews technology and prefers government officials print thousands of copies annually, costing taxpayers and our environment more in the long run.
Mr. Wilcox also implies that Mr. Grooms supports raising sewer rates. Unfortunately, Jeffersonville was forced to upgrade its sewage treatment system after losing a legal battle with the Federal government, a situation New Albany residents will no doubt find all too familiar.
Finally, various political opportunists, controversialists, and partisans have fabricated an issue of tolls on the Ohio River bridges, which Mr. Wilcox dutifully echoed in his piece.
In principle, I am opposed to tolls, and I know Ron Grooms is, too! However, neither the Jeffersonville City Council, nor the New Albany City Council, have any impact on what the Bi-State Authority can or will do, and we should stop wasting hard-earned tax dollars in endless debate on this issue.
Having been a small business owner who actually created jobs, Ron Grooms understands we do no need to burden the people and businesses of Southern Indiana. He also knows we need to finally get these bridges built. He believes it prudent to wait until an ongoing impact study is complete to make a final determination on how best to proceed.
Who would be a better legislator — one who has the “courage” to make a rash decision, based on innuendo, half-truths and political expedience, or one who suggests we wait until we have all the facts available before making a decision that will impact the community for decades to come?
In my view, the answer is obvious. That is why I will be casting my vote for the confident, thoughtful and honest leadership of Ron Grooms in the State Senate race.
— Harold Bryant, New Albany