WRTV reporter, Kara Kenney, ran a story on Monday night, listing 8 Central Indiana officials who had not paid their own property taxes and fees and were in arrears by $1000 or more. (click here for transcript and video) Kenney has previously reported on the $21,000 owed by Wayne Township Trustee, David Baird, who has since paid up. Of the 8 Kenney followed on Monday night's report, 2 hold office in Marion County - both school board members - Cathy Wiseman of Decatur Township and Scott Veerkamp of Franklin Township. Roughly half of all property taxes paid in Marion County typically go to the schools -- and the School Boards are the ones that vote to raise those taxes.
Decatur Township School Board member Cathy Jo Wiseman’s home was sold in a tax sale when she didn’t pay $3,427.24. Her home phone was disconnected, and she did not respond to e-mails. Her husband told 6News he hadn’t worked in two years.and
Scott Veerkamp, a realtor and Franklin Township School Board member, owed more than any other official we found. As of the end of October, he owed $7,825.82 on his Beech Grove business and $922.23 in sewer bills on three other properties. His house was all paid up.and
"He's taking care of his own property, making sure it's current, but he's not taking care of the other things," said Creasser [Marion County Deputy Treasurer].
Veerkamp refused an on-camera interview but wrote in an e-mail, “As I am sure you are aware, school board members are paid a meager amount of money to serve public $3,000-$4,000 per year. In the full time job that I hold, real estate sales, it has been a pretty tough road the last few years, as you know. That being said, we are doing our very best as we navigate these challenging economic times.“
All but Wiseman and Schmidt paid their property tax bills as soon as 6News started asking questions.
Veerkamp paid some, but not all of his property tax bills.
Veerkamp told 6News via e-mail, “Our company has remitted payment for the property taxes on our building located at 626 Main Street,” but Creasser said Monday that Veerkamp still owes $7,632.24 in taxes and penalties on his Beech Grove business, which includes the 626 Main St. address.In Wiseman's case, she has voted to raise taxes by some astonishingly high percentages in the last few years. In 2007, she voted to raise the property tax rate for the Decatur School District by 46% for the following year. (see Department of Local Government Finance tax rates for Marion County 2007-2010) At that point, the State of Indiana took responsibility for paying the operating expenses for all Indiana School Districts. Of what remained, Wiseman voted in 2009 to raise the property tax rate by 14% for taxes collected this year. If she could not afford to pay the huge tax bills, why did she foist them on others in our Township?