This time around, Chief of Staff (aka Mayor) Ryan Vaughn, is reported by John Tuohy of the IndyStar, as having said
Vaughn said tax collections have lagged since passage of property tax caps in 2008. Next year's property tax revenues will be $63 million less than in 2008 -- the homestead tax credit and the police tax were a couple of the only options the city has left to collect additional money, Vaughn said.Come on Ryan. Either you know you are pulling a fast one over the public, or you do not. Neither option is adequate to transparency in government.
Vaughn specifically picked 2008 for a comparison because that was the last year before the tax caps program was fully implemented. You don't have to talk to government officials very long before they are bemoaning tax caps. I don't want to dismiss all of their claims out of hand. But - and this is a big 'but' - they never seem to recall the massive amount of obligations that the State took over, funded by the 1 percent increase in State sales tax.
In the case of the City-County, the State of Indiana took over funding of specific obligations that used to cost the City-County over $113 M a year. For instance, the famous pre-1977 police and fire pensions. This pension had not had prudent payments made to it over the years and those public safety folks were beginning to retire in mass. This is the financial cliff that Peterson was facing when he got the public safety tax raised.
So, when you subtract the $113 M a year from the 2008 property taxes, well then Mayor Ballard got quite a golden ticket from the State Legislature. When you subtract that $113 M a year in obligations, AND account for tax cap penalties, the City-County collected just about $50 M more from property taxes in 2014 than in 2008. Yes, I said MORE.
Tuohy's article also states
The city projects it will collect $574 million in property and income taxes this year, an increase of $34 million over last year.Okay - there's the real numbers for 2015. Not this flagrant misrepresentation of our financial resources compared to pre-property-tax-caps days. Geez.
Here is what I wrote back in April for the Indiana Forefront blog - IBJ's blog.
Below is a graph showing the City-County total property tax levy and the net levy (total levy minus circuit breaker penalty) from 2008 through 2014. To simplify the jargon, the total levy is what they asked for, the net levy is what they got. The state took over City-County obligations in 2009 and the circuit breakers began to hit in 2010.
As you can see, the total property tax levy (what they asked for) and net levy (what they got) took a real jump in 2009 (The 2008 data is normalized for the $113M in City-County obligations taken over by the State in subsequent years so we can compare apples to apples.) Without a doubt, the initial year of the tax caps was good for the resources of Indianapolis.I look forward to finding out more about the 2015 budget. But, please save all of us from the big whoppers. Let's act like responsible adults.