Chesterton Tribune

Property taxes the most stable form of revenue for local government

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Voice of the People

There’s a lot of finger pointing over the embarrassing fiasco with “Property Tax Collecting”.  Yes, the Governor, our chief executive officer; the State legislators; and all of our County officials are certainly responsible for the mess. We’re beginning to see a new level of ineptitude which verges on negligence. But, the ultimate blame lies with the citizenry and our greed and lack of willingness to support ourselves. 

No matter what other issues face us, the one constant seems to be this notion that in spite of inflation; in spite of the fact there are more of us; and in spite of the fact we always want better this or that, we believe it’s possible to pay for all this with lower taxation.

I think its fair to say Republicans have traditionally carried this banner; and with much sanctimonious pride. Focusing on the most individual and largest of taxes, Property Taxes, they raised their muskets and fired their salvos over and over until the majority allowed the most stable source of governmental revenue to be tampered with. And look what it got us.  Near chaos. Local governments and school districts are borrowing millions in order to continue functioning, thus spending more than was to be gained.

I attended a meeting of local State Legislators and members of the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors recently, where State Senator Ed Soliday, a Republican, but to his credit brought to our attention the notion that Property Taxes are the most stable and thus most valuable form of taxation. He pointed out, correctly, that such taxes as Sales and Income have the potential for very serious shortfalls during economic downturns.  When workers are temporarily laid off or lose their jobs, their incomes drop and with it they pay less or no INCOME taxes! When their income is less they spend less. And therefore there are fewer SALES taxes collected! They don’t drive their cars as much. Guess what? Less gasoline sales taxes collected! GET THE PICTURE?

Just keep voting for Mitch Daniels and those other local and state office holders (Democrats and Independents alike) who try to explain to us why they think Property Taxes should be lowered or not raised more than this or that percentage. The truth is that property should be valued fairly. One doesn’t need to be a genius to figure out how. But, until that was known, the Property taxes should have been frozen or raised only modestly. If a special legislative mechanism was needed; it should have been provided. And lastly, as long as people buy and sell “homes” in order to increase their wealth (which they most certainly have a right to do), they and only they should be willing and able to afford higher taxes.

Joel Sutlin     


Posted 12/10/2007