Southern Indiana group rallies for property tax reform at Statehouse
By Caton Bredar
LOUISVILLE (WAVE) -- Tuesday night, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels gave his State of the State Address for the fourth time, with property taxes the primary item on his agenda. With taxes are up as much as 100 percent for some homeowners, and 300 percent for some business owners, a group of Southern Indiana property owners took their case to the Indiana Statehouse. WAVE3's Caton Bredar was reports on the caravan from Clarksville, and their response to the Governor's message.
In some respect, the Governor's topic was right on target. He identified as one of his primary goals for the coming year, "to bring lasting fairness and affordability to the taxation of property in our state," and went on to extinguish any doubts about the severity of the current situation.
"You may be asking if the word crisis is an exaggeration. But if you are in South Bend, Muncie or anywhere else the bills suddenly sky rocketed, you won't think it's too big a word."
But the mission for a group of Southern Indiana property owners wasn't so much about listening to the Governor, as it was getting the Governor, and all the branches of Government, to listen to them. As rental property owner Tim Lentz explained, "three months of my incoming rent has to go to taxes. If I didn't have the property paid off, I couldn't afford to keep the house. There's no way."
"...we just hope to get the word out," Lentz continued, "that we're not ready to give up on tax repeal."
Jerry Jacobi, a senior judge from Jeffersonville whose taxes on his home went up 100 percent, summed up the group's mission. "We are hoping that our voice is heard."
That voice belongs to around 50 people, business owners and residents, Republicans and Democrats. Their plan they say, to permanently repeal state-wide property taxes, is non-partisan.
"They're all good people, concerned citizens. Active in the community. Property owners, "said Jacobi.
Faced with late tax bills, rising taxes, county taxes and what they say, is a flawed assessment system, the group pasted on red and blue bumper stickers proclaiming "Let Us Vote" and picked up bright yellow signs asking legislators to repeal property taxes. Despite the fact that the group seemed familiar with the Governor's plan, which includes immediate relief for property owners, a cap of 1 percent on assessed property values, and a limit on government spending, they caravanned with gusto.
"We know there are at least half a dozen competing plans to reform the property taxes," Jacobi said. "...we would like the property taxes to be repealed. This is the start of what we hope is eventually going to be a successful push."
"The property taxes are jumping up too fast and it's scaring people," he concluded just a few minutes before hitting the road. "It's causing law abiding citizens to be at odds with their own government."
The group's next rally is scheduled for January 29th.