Government is expected to lose $2.008 million in property tax money,
according to the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance annual
report of tax cap impacts released last week for 2014.
The General Fund,
which is supported chiefly by property tax, is expected to see the sharpest
loss, $1.87 million. Other budgets affected are 2015 reassessment,
cumulative bridge, jail lease rental, and the cumulative capital development
The total loss was
higher in 2013 at $2.048 million, but that is because the health department
fund was included then as an additional item. The hit to the General Fund
last year was $1.6 million, a difference of about $270,000.
The County Council
has already been advised it will need to close a $5 million gap in the
budget for this year and an $8 million hole for next.
The County’s budget
specialist Vicki Urbanik told the Council in an email that the General Fund
budget at this fall’s budget hearings will “be very tight” starting out
“with no real room” for increased appropriations. The budget’s certified
levy stands at $32.3 million, but $35.8 million is the total for the
Urbanik said the
budget is also set to absorb various costs that have not been appropriated
such as the sheriff’ pension expenses of nearly $840,000. She said
miscellaneous revenues not part of the General Fund will need to come in
higher by at least $100,000 depending on how much the spring and fall
property tax draws bring in. Revenues are up this year compared to last
“which may be a good sign,” Urbanik said.
But what may be the
biggest challenge for the Council this year is to come up with funds to
balance the County health insurance plan. The shortfall began at $2.5 with
the 2014 adopted budget last fall and worsened by $2.8 million when the
state made its cuts, Urbanik said.
member Jim Biggs, R-1st, told the Chesterton Tribune he believes the
County does not have a revenue problem, but rather “a spending problem.”
Biggs said he plans
to propose putting a freeze on new expenditures during the Council’s meeting
tonight at 5:30 p.m. in the County Administration Building.
The Council has
already put a freeze on new hires for County Departments and has sent
letters to department heads asking them to keep an eye out for ways they can
reduce spending this year.
The DLGF report
shows that the countywide total of losses due to tax caps is $12.38 million
for 2014, up from $12.0 million in 2013.
The Duneland School
Corpora-tion will experience a loss of $716,000, most of which will be
coming out of its Capital Projects fund. The figure is however less than the
total last year of $1.031 million which was because of a change in the tax
rate for debt service.
The Town of
Chesterton’s loss is expected to be $543,465 with a $396,849 drop in the
general fund due to the caps.
The Porter Town
budget will be shorted $273,324, according to the DLGF.
However, there are
some units that are not feeling the crunch as much or at all: Westchester
Twp. ($3,444); Liberty Twp. ($3,097); Dune Acres ($2,754); Jackson Twp.
($357); Pine Twp. ($6); Burns Harbor ($6); Pine Civil Town ($.16) and
Beverly Shores ($0).
Urbanik said the
reason towns like Burns Harbor and Beverly Shore are seeing minimal impacts
is because their tax rates are so low that practically no one in their
boundaries is hitting the tax cap. Areas with higher assessed property
values generally have low tax rates, she said.
homestead properties are capped at 1 percent, rental properties and
agricultural land are capped at 2 percent, and non-residential property or
commercial is capped at 3 percent.
For 2014, the
County saw $5.5 million of circuit breaker credits from properties capped at
1 percent, $6.7 million for those at 2 percent and $50,881 for those at 3
percent, meaning more properties are hitting the circuit breaker at the 1
and 2 percent caps.
The tax caps became
a permanent fixture of Indiana’s constitution after the 2010 elections.
“This is an issue
that is not going to go away,” Urbanik said.
The state impact
report is at