Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Team Hammond will be taking a break for the Holidays. There will be no meetings in November or December.

The next regular meeting will be the last Tuesday in January, 2012.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Rittenmeyer On Ethics in Local Government

October Team Hammond Meeting

Guest Speaker: Shared Ethics Advisory Commission


Tuesday, October 25
6:30 PM Meet and Greet --- 7 PM Program
Everyone is invited -- Bring a friend

Community room of the Main Branch of
Hammond Public Library
564 State Street, Hammond, IN
(Across the street from All Saints Church)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mike Repay On How Government Works -- or Doesn't Work!

Mike Repay, newly elected Lake County Councilman will bring his unique view and experience in government work to the next Team Hammond Taxpayers Group meeting for an open discussion on what makes government work -- and what does not work.

He also will bring the new Lake County Government Budget for 2012, and will be available to answer questions on where our money goes when it heads off to Lake County government.

The meeting will be held in a new location -- the Hayward Branch of the Hammond Public Library. The date is Tuesday, September 27. Meet and Greet is at 6:30 PM, the meeting will start promptly at 7 PM.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cid to be Speaker for August Team Hammond Meeting

Lake County Councilwoman Christine Cid will be the guest speaker at the Tuesday August 30 Team Hammond Taxpayers Group meeting. Councilwoman Cid will address the issue of "Cutting the County Budget: a work in progress"

The meeting will be held Tuesday, August 30. Meet and Greet is at 6:30 PM; the program will begin promptly at 7 PM. The meeting will be held in the Community room of the Main Branch of Hammond Public Library, 564 State Street, Hammond, IN

Please note this is a new meeting location for Team Hammond.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Conservancy District Information

There will be a special informational meeting Thursday evening June 24 on the proposed Conservancy District plan. Team Hammond is joining with other groups to provide this chance to get your questions on the controversial proposal answered. The meeting will be held at Lincoln’s restaurant in Highland from 6:30 to 9 PM.

Also there will be an important public discussion of the Conservancy Distict plan at the Hammond City Council meeting on Monday night, June 26.

The meeting in Highland, at Lincoln’s Restaurant 2813 Highway avenue will be your chance to get questions answered, so you can make up your mind and speak your piece at the Hammond City Council meeting. (Lincoln's restaurant is just north of Ridge road, and a little east of Kennedy ave)

Just a reminder - there will be no regular Team Hammond Meeting in June or July. The regular meetings will resume in August.

For more info on the conservancy district or team Hammond meetings, call 678-6761.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

May General Meeting

The May general meeting of Team Hammond Taxpayers Group will be Tuesday evening May 30 at the Woodmar United Methodist Church. Meet and Greet will begin at 6:30, the meeting will begin at 7 PM.

The subject will be Hammond's Casino money-- where does it come from and where does it go?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Candidates Night at April Meeting

The April meeting of Team Hammond Taxpayers' Group will be Tuesday evening, April 26 at the Woodmar United Methodist Church at 7230 Northcote in Hammond.

Candidates running in the May 3 Primary are invited for an open forum. Depending on how many candidates come, time will be allotted for each candidate to make a brief statement, followed by an open forum for those attending to ask questions.

Come meet and talk to those seeking to guide Hammond into the next era.

Meet and Greet at 6:30, open forum will begin at 7 PM.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

March Team Hammond Meeting

Team Hammond Taxpayers Group will hold their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday evening, March 29, at the Woodmar United Methodist Church at 7320 Northcote in Hammond.

The program will be in two parts. First a presentation on how to be a Hammond citizen watchdog, and learni to follow where and how your tax money is spent.

The second part of the program will take advantage of the non-partisan makeup of Team Hammond, with both Republican and Democrat candidates attending. A moderated forum will ask citizens to tell candidates How To Make Hammond Better.

Meet and greet with candidates will begin at 6:30; the program begins at 7 PM.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"February" meeting planned for March 1

The Primary election in Hammond promises to be very exciting. Several Team Hammond regulars have filed to run for office.

Because this is a very busy time, we are rescheduling the February meeting for Tuesday March 1. The meeting will be held at the Woodmar United Methodist Church, 7320 Northcote in Hammond. Meet and Greet at 6:30, meeting at 7.

This meeting will be very important -- we will be discussing plans for the new year, including the questions of what issues Team Hammond wants to address in the coming Legislative agenda.

With Better Government a highlight of our mission, we will also be discussing how best to achieve that in the coming year, especially with the important elections on the horizon.

Hope to see you all there!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Questions to Bosma focus on education

Indiana house speaker addressed 100 people in town hall meeting at IPFW.

By Bob Caylor
of The News-Sentinel

Brian Bosma, the speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives, came to Fort Wayne to hear what people think, and he found they’re thinking about education. Nearly all the questions he fielded during a two-hour town hall meeting Wednesday night at IPFW pertained to charter schools, vouchers or funding for public schools.

Bosma, an Indianapolis Republican, spoke for a few minutes before he took questions. In that time, he outlined the top priorities the General Assembly faces.

Topping the list, of course, is squaring spending with estimated revenues over the next two years. “We have a 2011 budget with 2005 state revenues,” he told more than 100 attendees. They filled all the chairs in three joined meeting rooms, packed open spaces to standing room only, and listened in an adjoining lounge and hallways. Bosma said revenues had never dropped to levels of six years ago, “not even during the Depression.”

Since both parties agree they won’t raise taxes to make ends meet, the answer is that most schools, social service agencies and other state-funded entities must “continue to do more with less,” he said.

Other top priorities this year include passing education reform, encouraging economic recovery (including finding a way to support unemployment insurance), redrawing legislative districts in line with 2010 census findings and bringing a return to civil debate in the legislature, Bosma said.

In answering the first question, Bosma affirmed his support for some mix of measures that will promote charter schools or possibly other alternatives to public schools.

“We need to give parents as many options as possible,” he said. That might include making it easier for school boards or groups of parents to start charter schools.

A more extreme measure – a “nuclear option,” Bosma said – would be enabling parents to get a portion of the funding used for their children in public schools if they move their children to nonpublic schools.

Many in the audience were teachers and let Bosma know they have strong qualms about making it easier to pull funding from public schools. The best-known of those who urged Bosma to be cautious was Mark GiaQuinta, president of the Fort Wayne Community Schools board.

“The biggest threat to educating kids the way we all want to educate them is getting to them early enough,” he told Bosma. Peeling more resources away from public school systems will make it even more difficult to provide exemplary early education for children, he said.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Team Hammond General Meeting

The first Team Hammond meeting of the New Year will be on Tuesday, January 25 at the Woodmar United Methodist Church at 7320 Northcote. Meet andGreet at 6:30 PM, meeting at 7 PM

Now that the property tax caps are in place, we will be starting to put together the agenda for 2011. The Indiana State legislature has an ambitious agenda that includes many issues that will affect communities like Hammond.

School reform is a key issue. Redistricting of course will be a big issue, as will local government issues that could eliminate or significantly change the function of townships. Another issue near and dear to the hearts of those in Lake County will be the governor’s initiative to curb nepotism.

THe primary election in May and the general electionn in November will mean lots of discussion of candidates and issues.

Plan to come to the meeting on Tuesday Jan. 25 and help Team Hammond plan their direction for the new year.

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.