Thursday, June 24, 2010
Changes to Controlled Projects memo from DLGF
Petition and Remonstrance Process flowchart
Local Public Question flowchart
Sunday, June 13, 2010
VALPARAISO | Fiscal considerations swung the City Council's appointment to the School Board on Thursday in favor of a financial consultant.
The council appointed Karl Cender, a consultant, certified public accountant and owner of Cender & Co. in Merrillville.
In their deliberations, council members spoke highly of runner-up Amy Cory, a nursing professor at Valparaiso University, for her enthusiasm and attendance at board meetings, but they chose Cender for his financial expertise.
With further state cuts to public education expected in the next budget round, difficult financial decisions will have to be made on the local level, council member Kelly Ward said.
Member Bob Taylor wondered where the money would come from and said he didn't want to see a tax increase on seniors.
Member Art Elwood said, "The bottom line, sad to say, is money."
The finalists, who included Debra Koeppen, Scott Mundell and Robert Thompson, were "an outstanding slate of candidates," Ward said.
The questions in Thursday's second round of interviews were submitted by the public, with council members asking follow-ups.
Asked which programs, academic areas and foreign languages he would favor cutting if the necessity arose, Cender said enrollment and budgeting would need to be studied first, but he stressed the priority of academic programs.
In response to a wide-ranging question about the environmental impact of the schools, Cender said a decision whether to build new elementary schools or renovate existing ones should include weighing the costs and benefits of greener alternatives.
Cender also suggested that students could be challenged to brainstorm ideas on reducing the schools' carbon footprint.
That idea, council member Jan Dick said, helped sway him in favor of Cender.
Cender also said he agreed with the board's recent policy to admit up to 10 nonresident students annually to Valparaiso High School from the city's two parochial schools, which conclude at eighth grade.
Cender will replace board member Mary Idstein, who moved out of the city and could not apply for appointment.
Cender, 50, and his wife have a daughter who graduated fro
m Valparaiso High School in 2009 and a son who will be a sophomore at the school next year.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Indiana voters are expected to vote resoundingly in November to approve a constitutional amendment requiring property taxes to be capped at their current levels. That could prove to be a big mistake.
The caps themselves are not the issue. It's the inability to respond to fiscal emergencies that could be troublesome at some point in the future.
Currently, property taxes are capped at 1 percent of the property's value for homeowners, 2 percent for rentals and 3 percent for commercial properties. That provides needed tax relief for a growing number of property owners each year and forces governments to cut expenses each year.
Gov. Mitch Daniels, one of the biggest proponents of the constitutional amendment, wants this fiscal pressure on local governments to force them to consider efficiencies they might otherwise ignore. That's not such a bad thing. There is much to be done to make local governments more efficient.
Many local government officials are concerned about the caps because of the squeeze they're already putting on those governments. Those officials are being forced out of their comfort zones.
Having the tax caps in place makes Indiana more attractive for economic development, which could boost a community's tax base and in turn drive down its tax rate.
But what if a fiscal disaster occurs that requires a short-term funding infusion? If that happens with a constitutional amendment locking the property tax caps in place, where will the money come from to provide essential -- truly essential -- government services in that emergency?
Already, communities across Indiana are asking for fiscal home rule, the ability to generate revenue through means not already approved by the state.
A local sales tax on gasoline and fireworks, for example, could raise money along the state line that would primarily be paid by Illinois residents who cross the state line to buy cheaper products in Indiana.
Open the door to those taxes, however, and who knows how high they would go?
Putting the property tax caps in the Indiana Constitution could prove to be a huge mistake somewhere down the line. The caps are already in place by state law. Leave it at that and allow an escape clause in case the worst, whatever that might be, happens someday. Otherwise, don't be surprised if a number of other taxes pop up and defeat the purpose of the tax caps anyway.
Your opinion, please
Should Indiana voters approve a constitutional amendment locking in the current property tax caps?