Statement as distributed Thursday by the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns:
INDIANAPOLIS – A unified group representing 16 statewide organizations announced today they’re working together to ensure that city, town, county, township, school, library and public safety agency funds are not harvested once again at the detriment of Hoosier quality of life.
“The proposed elimination of Indiana’s business personal property tax is another pull from local funds without proper thought given to how our communities will continue to function and grow without these revenues,” said Indiana Association of Cities and Towns (IACT) President Richard Hickman, mayor of Angola, Ind.
“Units at all levels of local government, including our school systems, want businesses to succeed in our communities. But, if we cannot provide the quality of life their employees demand, they will locate their businesses elsewhere. Any elimination of the personal property tax without full replacement revenues guaranteed by the state is just not an option for us,” said Hickman.
Due to the approximate $800 million in annual losses to local governmental units associated with constitutional property tax caps, even the smallest amount of revenue loss to cities, towns, counties, schools or other local units cannot be supported without corresponding replacement revenues.
“You will hear from some lawmakers that the bills being considered are either a local option or just scratch the surface of local revenues,” said Denny Costerison, Executive Director of the Indiana Association of School Business Officials. “Any further depletion of local revenues will have a real impact on the children and citizens we serve. We just cannot go down this slippery slope yet again without guaranteed replacement funds,” said Costerison.
According to a recent Legislative Services study, property owners across the state who haven’t yet reached the property tax cap would pay an additional $375 million per year to make up for the personal property tax break the state wants to offer business owners.
“In addition to eliminating funds to local government, shifting the burden from businesses to workers and homeowners is just not something we should support,” said Executive Director of the Association of Indiana Counties David Bottorff. “Continuous elimination of local revenue in one dramatic action or phasing in the loss of revenue over time are not viable options.”
“Protecting the public is engrained in our bones as fire and police officials. When considering the revenue hits we’ve already taken, my fellow police chiefs and I are seriously concerned about our ability to meet the standards of protection our citizens deserve,” said Tony Ciriello, Syracuse, Ind., police chief. “Further funding hits of any size are sending the wrong message about the importance we place on public safety in our state.”
IACT Executive Director and CEO Matt Greller summed up the coalition’s goals, “It’s quite simple, we have unified on behalf of the people we serve. All of our organizations want to provide the best for our communities and create safe places people want to raise their families and grow their businesses. We urge lawmakers to take stock of the bigger picture and understand that in today’s world, economic development is about so much more than a list of business taxes.”
Replace Don’t Erase: In an effort to communicate with one clear voice the consequences of eliminating all or some of the personal property tax without full replacement revenues, IACT invited the statewide organizations of all affected local units to join Replace Don’t Erase. Our hope is that by working together we can effectively communicate the seriousness of eliminating some or all personal property tax revenues without a state implemented replacement of these dollars. The quality of our schools, public safety departments, infrastructure, programs and ability to develop livable communities depends on the limited resources currently available. Changes to these revenue streams need to be made with utmost deliberation and full consideration for how the funds will otherwise be generated.