Saturday, February 16, 2008



Welcome to the real story of New Albany. Sit back and get a large cup of coffee. You're in for a rude awakening about property taxes and city funds.

First of all, allow us to introduce ourselves. We, like you, call New Albany our home. We live, work and raise our families here. We pay high sewer bills and high property taxes and we have a VOICE...

In fact, the last couple of months we've been burning the roads up from New Albany to Indianapolis fighting for you and what we believe in and that is Fair Property Taxes.

Yes, we do Support Abolishing Property Taxes. But, it looks like to us property owners this plan will not fly yet. So if our legislators and Governor Daniels cap our property taxes at 1% that is at least a start for Property Tax Reform.

We have been meeting with other citizens activists all over the 92 counties of our State.

They are now hearing the same CRAP which we recently read in the local C/J dated Wednesday Feb. 13, 2008.

AND WE QUOTE: The tax plan would reduce the city's property tax revenue by an estimated $377,000 next year and about $353,000 in 2010. That's about 1.4 percent of the city's total budget, including revenue it collects to PAY DEBTS.

"I can't make it" without major cuts, Mayor England said today, "It will be a firehouse or six police officers - no ifs, ands or buts about it."

First of all, that sounds like a THREAT Mayor England.

Second, if you are not up to the task as mayor why not step down and let someone else do what needs to be done for us citizens of New Albany! We live within a budget, why can't you?

Thirdly, we property taxpayers have been hearing this THREAT for the last 16 years by 2 other mayors. If you think Mayor England that you are going to "bully us" into giving in to your other "feel good projects" you are sadly mistaken this time.


Let's look at what you SAY and what YOU HAVE DONE in the first 30 days of your new adminstration:

* YOU HAVE hired two Deputy Mayors
* YOU HAVE hired an asst. for one Deputy Mayor
* YOU HAVE pushed for employee raises
* YOU HAVE received a $11,000 raise
* YOU HAVE a 2nd Code Enforcement Officer
* YOU WANT 4 part-time attorneys beside our city attorney ____________________________________________


Property taxes in Indiana are administered at the local level with oversight by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance. DLGF states that more than 99 percent of the revenue generated by our property taxes remain in our community.

Source: Gail Snyder DLGF ------

Freedom Of Speech also received the following e-mail dated: January 11, 2008

Dear Taxpayers of New Albany,

Last year, increases in property taxes around the state spurred a call-to-action at all levels of government to ensure a fair and equitable property tax system for all Hoosier taxpayers.

Property taxes are the primary source of funding for local governments.

Thus, increases - or decreases - in property taxes are a result of "total local spending and fiscal management." The Citizen's Petition and Romonstrance is also part of that effort so taxpayers can ensure their voices are heard.

The DLGF is continully working to assist taxpayers in understanding local government taxation and holding local units of government accountable for responsible spending.


Cheryl A.W. Musgrave

Freedom of Speech would like to say:

Same old scare tactics, we will have to cut back essential services. As usual we see no mention of cuts that involve administrative assistants, billing clerks, engineers, attorneys , consultants or any number of other "essential" personal. Also, no mention of anyone having to give up a take home car, cell phones, perks or why not freeze spending.

Just the tip of the iceberg, but the only cuts our mayor can find are police and fire.

Mayor England...Where have you been? The New Albany Taxpayers have been crying for RELIEF from the high property tax bills. Do you not intend to listen to the Voices of the Taxpayers?

You're driving around town in a $50,000 automobile that the taxpayers are paying for.

Your Deputy Mayors are driving around in city own cars.

Is it true that our city has provided former Mayor Garner a city owned vehicle in his new sewer position?

You as Mayor are only trying to protect your projects, instead of "tightening your spending" to provide relief to property taxpayers.

What do we property taxpayers do with our budgets when our car breaks down, or our kids get sick and when we have large gas or electric bills this winter? We either cut back, go and get another job or work overtime!

But this City, they give raises, don't follow Indiana statutes, and continue to appropriate more money. They stack the boards and play political favorites to get what they want.

Then they threaten to cut services. Why cut services when the City of New Albany taxpayers aren't getting what we paid for anyway?

The burden is always put on the backs of the property owners!

Now Mayor England's answer to all of this is:

Five to six officers could lose their jobs or a fire station might be shut down. "Show me the fat and I'll cut it off. We're at bare bones now."

Our reply Mayor England to you is "Bulls**t." Cut your payroll, lay five to six officers off and stop threatening us property taxpayers!

Freedom Of Speech does not have all the answers, but, we sure know when we are not being given the whole truth!

From Freedom of Speech
Saturday, February 16, 2008

Thursday, February 14, 2008


There has been a great deal of talk concerning upcoming budget shortfalls. Mayors from different cities mention that their local governments will lose millions of dollars and as a result will have to cut services.

Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. has said there is no way his city can shed $21 million overnight without affecting police and fire protection.

As a homeowner in Hammond, I am deeply concerned. What will happen to the police and fire protection? Will we have enough police and firemen?

I took my car and headed to Hammond City Hall where I picked up a copy of the city budget. The budget has eight sections and there is a bunch of numbers. So I started at the beginning. There is a budget estimate page with fund names, such as a General Fund, Debt Service Fund, Fire Pension, Police Pension, and so on. Each of these funds included a dollar amount. The total dollar amount for the budget is $109,988,393.00 for the 2008 budget. That sure is a lot of money; I had to double check the amount so I added all those numbers. When I totaled the numbers I was shocked to find that the real amount is $110,184,213.00. I added those numbers again, and again, I arrived at $110,184,213.00. The budget didn’t add up.

I started to get more curious about this budget. I looked at every page and as I went through the budget, questions started to pop up. Where are the take-home cars? I know there are over 90 take-home cars, but they aren’t in the budget. What about gas for vehicles; that isn’t in the budget. The self-insurance fund is not listed in the budget. The Mayor has a photographer, and the Mayor has a television show. Where are all these items? In fact, I counted 25 city departments and funds that were not included in the budget. Again, the budget didn’t add up.

Now the question is, how are these departments funded, and what are the true costs?
I turned to the State Board of Accounts, and they sent me a financial report for the City of Hammond. It is called the Annual City and Town Financial Report. The report that I received is for the Fiscal Year ending December 31, 2006.

There are 13 parts to this Financial Report. I turned to Part 1-Statement of Receipts, Disbursements, Cash Balances & Investment Balances. I discovered the City of Hammond had receipts of $195,443,208.70 for the year ending 2006.

The budget for 2008 shows a budget total of $109,988,393.00, but Hammond has receipts over $195,443,208.70. This is a difference of 85 million dollars. The budget again didn’t add up.

Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. has said there’s no way his city can shed $21 million overnight without affecting police and fire protection.

Where did the Mayor of Hammond get the money for the following items?
1) $13,000,000 for a clubhouse for Lost Marsh Golf Course
2) Lost Marsh Golf Course. The cost to operate the golf course is close to $2 million a year.
3) $55,000 for the Mayor’s photographer
4) $900,000 commission for the Mayor’s father in the Cabela’s store deal
5) $100,000 to Purdue University for an endowment for the Mayor’s father
6) $1,500 for health care per employee per month for City Departments
7) $432,192 for Festival of the Lakes
8) $250,000 for a legal aid clinic
9) $65,000 for campaign workers
10) $10,000,000 in raises since the 2005 budget. In fact, some employees received $15,000 raises this year (Police Chief & Fire Chief).
11) The Mayor’s salary is $95,000 per year. The Governor’s salary is also $95,000.
12) There are a total of 9 Pages of Financial Assistance to Nongovernmental Entities as listed in the Annual City and Town Financial Report of 2006. Here are some items from that list:
a) $50,500 Hammond YMCA
b) $60,000 Running Rebels
c) $70,000 Parents as Teachers of Hammond
d) $350,000 St. Margaret Mercy
e) $20,000 The Laura Austin Passmore Guild
f) $40,300 Towle Community Theatre
g) $50,000 United Neighborhood Inc.

Can Hammond shed $21 million dollars from their budget and save the Police and Fire departments?

What do you think?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Our local elected officials must be working overtime trying to convince the citizens that property tax reform is bad for us. They would have you believe with their scare tactics that we will have no fire or police protection, and people will die! Let's put a guilt trip on the homeowners for wanting to keep their homes!

If Mayor McDermott is so worried about this 1% cap and the loss of millions of dollars, why is he talking about building a new city hall? Or for that matter, what about the $13 million revenue bond the Port Authority floated to build a new banquet hall at Lost Marsh Golf Course? If the city is in such bad financial shape, why don't we just sell the golf course to a private interest and be done with it? It's never made money in all the years it's been open anyway.

And if Fire Chief Hamm is so worried about having to cut firefighters, why doesn't he give back the $15,000 raise he just received as a show of good faith?

It's time the good people of Hammond started asking why it is the Civil City takes in over $52 million in casino revenue annually, yet the city is in debt to the tune of at least $110 million. The city should not be broke! We should be in the black. Where has all that money gone to?

The way to reduce property taxes in Hammond is by selling the golf course (the city should not be in the golf course business anyway), nix the banquet hall and new city hall, cut out all excessive spending (mayor's photographer at a salary of $55,000 a year), and have the mayor take his share of the annual casino revenue and pay off all the city's debt.

The city can and should live within its means. Essential services don't have to be cut. Our elected officials are trying to take the heat off them by laying the guilt trip on us!


At Monday night's Hammond City Council meeting, a majority of the city council voted to fund the Hammond Health Department with casino gaming money. Voting in favor of this funding was Councilman Homero "Chico" Hinojosa, Councilwoman Kim Poland, Councilman Anthony Higgs, Councilman Robert Markovich and Councilwoman Joann Matanovich. Voting against the funding were Councilman Dan Repay, Councilman Mark Kalwinski, and Councilwoman Kathy Pucalik. Councilman Al Salinas was absent from Monday night's council meeting and did not vote.

However, Mayor McDermott has said he will veto any measure to keep the health department under local control. It would take six votes from the city council to override the mayor's veto.

Councilman Hinojosa had approached the mayor about keeping the city's health department intact until the whole issue could be resolved because the county does not have a clearcut plan on
taking over the city's health department.

At the present time, the Lake County Health Department is offering limited services to Hammond residents. Susan Best, Lake County Health Commissioner, has made it known that Hammond will not receive any additional services. Councilman Hinojosa has said he will continue the fight to keep the city's health department because it provides services the county will not. Currently, there are 190 children in Hammond that are not attending school because they are not inoculated.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


How do we expect kids to respect our constitution when those who are making decisions on the school board level disrespect it with their actions? School board members and wayward superintendents should be held accountable for this blatant waste and misuse of our tax dollars. Davy Crockett's final words of his famous speech can be applied directly to this situation. Read them again. I don't know how many times I've heard it said by these educrats, "But, it's for the children!" Poppycock! The overpriced roof jobs are not for the children. In fact, it takes away from real education. Money that could be spent on books and teachers are being wasted to line the pockets of lawyers, lobbyists, and an Ohio roofing manufacturer.

Better yet, the government should get out of the education business and turn it over to the private industry. Parents could keep their tax dollars and send their children to private schools where educational standards are much higher anyway. Property taxes could then be eliminated, and people who don't use the school system would not be forced to pay for it. Here's a novel idea from a worthy organization called Separation of School and State. I've already pledged my support.

Davy Crockett was right, and we should be shouting his sentiments from the rooftops of every superintendent's office in the state. If I were a betting woman, I would wager my last dollar that not one superintendent or school board member would spend their own money the careless and reckless way that they are spending ours. They need to be reminded, "It's not yours to give!" We, as taxpayers and parents, should adopt the attitude of Horatio Bunce. We should refuse to vote for any man or woman who abuses his or her power. It's time to start holding the mismanagers to account.

"Now, sir," concluded Crockett, "you know why I made that speech yesterday. "There is one thing which I will call your attention, "you remember that I proposed to give a week's pay. There are in that House many very wealthy men - men who think nothing of spending a week's pay, or a dozen of them, for a dinner or a wine party when they have something to accomplish by it. Some of those same men made beautiful speeches upon the great debt of gratitude which the country owed the deceased--a debt which could not be paid by money--and the insignificance and worthlessness of money, particularly so insignificant a sum as $20,000 when weighed against the honor of the nation. Yet not one of them responded to my proposition. Money with them is nothing but trash when it is to come out of the people. But it is the one great thing for which most of them are striving, and many of them sacrifice honor, integrity, and justice to obtain it."

From Welcome To My Tea Party
Sunday, February 10, 2008

Blunt Proof of the Feasibility to Permanently Abolish Property Tax

Media Contacts:
Melyssa Donaghy 317-938-8913
Max Katz 765-409-6669

Hoosiers For Fair Taxation, Senator Delph, Representative Noe, Representative Elrod and many other legislators along with Stop Indiana, attorney John Price, Eric Miller's Advance America, and the Statewide Taxpayer Alliance know that property tax abolishment, without substantial increases in sales tax and income tax, is realistic and possible. The economist Dr. Bill Styring's 2/2/2 Plan demonstrates that the state of Indiana can completely replace property tax without changing the state's current spending habits.

Dr. Styring's plan does not account for positive changes in Indiana's economy that will undoubtedly follow the elimination of property tax such as heavy real estate investment and increased consumer spending due to increased statewide disposable income. The real estate investment in Indiana alone would cause such an economic boom that it could likely end our abandoned property and foreclosure crisis. Property tax elimination would also likely cause a surge in Indiana's population as more people locate to Indiana to take advantage of real estate purchase opportunities without the burden of property tax. With the population surge would come more sales and income taxes.

The General Assembly does not have to adopt a specific plan until the year 2011. In the meantime, we recommend that the General Assembly approves the 27steps outlined in the report prepared by the Sheperd Kernan commission. While the Governor's commission cannot forecast the savings to the state once the plan is implemented, there is no doubt that the savings would be substantial--perhaps equivalent to the the entire property tax burden currently placed on Indiana's homeowners because our legislators have not had the political will to liberate Indiana's governing structure and her taxpayers from the 19th century.

Our citizen networks will work to replace all legislators who do not support property tax repeal in the November 2008 election.

The 2/2/2 Plan, to replace property taxes in Indiana based upon the latest revenue forecast (07/08 fiscal, estimate):

1) Current IN sales tax (state level rate of 6%): $5.601 billion2% increase would yield an additional $1.867 billion

2) Current corporate profits tax: ~$2 billion

2% increase would yield an additional $.286 billion ($286M)

3) A 2% statewide average of the COIT would yield $2.705 billion to cover local civil units of gov.

By adding these three together ($1.867 billion + $.286 billion + $2.705 billion), a total of $4.858 billion is realized; enough revenue to replace property taxes.

Indiana has a 70-plus year history of attempts to lower property taxes by raising other, non-property taxes. In every case these have failed miserably. The new taxes, or higher rates on old taxes, remain in place. And, in short order, property taxes rise back to their old levels, poised to roar even higher.

--1933. General Assembly imposes two new taxes: an individual gross income tax and a corporate gross income tax. The morgue of the Indianapolis Star indicates that the political leadership at the time said this was for property tax relief (1933 was the pits of the Great Depression, and people were losing their homes. Home prices declined by over 40% in the 1929-1933 period). Property tax relief was nonexistent. The state used the money to bail out the state's own finances.

--1963. General Assembly imposes a new sales tax at a rate of 2% and changes the 1933 individual gross income tax (from 1933) to an adjusted gross income tax (the one we have now) at a rate of 2%. Again, the ostensible reason was for property tax relief and again little PTR was forthcoming.

--1967. Those 1963 tax changes were raising more money than projected. The GA decides to give back 8% of sales and income tax revenue to local government for property tax relief. Local units spent the money. No PTR.

--1973. Gov. Otis Bowen launches the most determined PTR offensive yet. The sales tax goes to 4% and a new corporate supplemental net income (profits) tax is imposed. Strict property tax levy controls are imposed. It works... for a time. By 1980, property taxes adjusted for inflation are some 30% lower than in 1973. When Bowen leaves office the levy controls are relaxed. By the end of the decade, property taxes (adjusted for inflation) are back to 1973 levels. The doubling of the sales tax rate from 2% to 4% remains in place, along with the new corporate SNIT.

--2002. More fiddling with the sales tax in the hope of property tax relief. The results of this are obvious, or we wouldn't be debating the current property tax mess. All of this suggests that unless the property tax is totally ripped up by constitutional amendment, the assessment and collection mechanism dismantled, it will grow back. The PTR-inspired hikes in other taxes remain. That is our history. It is a terrible deal for taxpayers.

2. A vote in the 2008 legislative session for a constitutional amendment to repeal property taxes does not amend the constitution. It merely starts the amendment process. Amendments must be passed by two consecutively elected General Assemblies, then submitted to a referendum. Thus any amendment passed by the '08 Assembly must be passed by either the 2009 or 2010 legislatures, then submitted to the voters at the 2010 general election. The General Assembly does not need to decide on a "replacement revenue" package until the 2011 session.

3. What might such a "replacement revenue" package look like? The particular answer will come from the 2011 General Assembly and cannot be determined now (if for no other reason than forecasting state level taxes and property taxes out that far would be a most unreliable exercise. No one need be locked into any particular plan just yet. However, as an illustration that a replacement plan is feasible and less scary than many fear (we don't need to be talking about a 12% or 13% sales tax ... in fact, we should not be), consider just this one possibility.

Local sales taxes are generally very bad policy, for a whole host of reasons too numerous to mention in this short sketch. Sales and corporate taxes are best levied at the state level. It happens that roughly a 2% increase in the sales tax and a 2% increase in the corporate profits tax roughly take care of school propertytaxes. The loss of local control by the state assuming school property taxes is minimal. About the onlylocal control left is on building projects.

For local civil units, a statewide average increase in the individual adjusted gross income tax of about 2% suffices to replace local civil government property taxes, higher than 2% in some units, less than 2% in others.

Thus, a "2-2-2" plan~2% sales and 2% corporate profits at the state level for schools and a 2% average on personal income taxes for civil units—is about what would be needed. This is merely a ballpark projection to 2011.

There may be better plans, it's really a policy question for the General Assembly: do you want to make the trade of something like this in exchange for no-property-taxes-forever-on-anything? Everyone understands "zero."

4. Are there "practical problems? Of course. The two identified are how to make the civil government transition from a property tax base to an income tax base, and how to handle debt backed by property taxes. Without elaborating, the former can be handled using locator software (Map quest-type programs). The debt problem might be handled by treating the current state paid PTRC's as in lieu of property taxes (which they are) and paying PT-backed debt service from each unit's own PTRC.

Conclusion: Total elimination of the property tax via constitutional amendment is the only way to give property tax relief that will stick. The other tax action necessary to achieve this goal—in 2011-are large but not so scary as "a 13% sales tax." They are feasible. The question is for the General Assembly. Are we going to once again go down that 70-odd year path of failed PTR policies or are we going to rip the property tax up by the roots?

Posted by Hoosiers For Fair Taxation on Friday, January 4, 2008.