Friday, March 28, 2014

What ever happened to the Oversight Tax Review Board for Allen County?

Just so everyone is clear, the legislation on Business Personal Property Tax Repeal at the local level, signed by Governor Pence is not in effect yet, it will not take effect until 2015.

The Allen County Auditor's Office's page defines the BPPT as:

"Personal property abatements are for equipment or machinery used for the production, manufacturing, fabrication, assembly, or processing of other personal property. In addition, equipment used for research and development, information technology systems and on site logistical equipment are eligible for abatement. Used equipment can qualify for abatement if not previously used and taxed in Indiana. Like the real property abatement, deductions for personal property can be granted for a period up to ten years."
The difference with this legislation is that it expands the abatement process for up to twenty years and can be applied "to either exempt new equipment from the business personal property tax, eliminate the tax on small businesses or abate the tax on specific projects for up to 20 years." The legislation also provides for the creation of a commission "this summer to "evaluate a broad range of tax issues and their impact on local governments"

While I dont agree completely with The Kernan Shepherd Report they did stipulate some very practical remedies: 

"... County governments should be led by a single county executive and a stronger county council, to whom professionally qualified administrators should report and be accountable. The services presently performed by township personnel should be transferred to the county governments. Only elected officials should have the power to levy taxes. All spending, including school spending, should be subject to more rigorous examination by elected officials. And Indiana’s school districts should be large enough to gather sufficient resources to educate our children for twenty - first century life." (page 2)"

"With more than 3,200 independent local governments, our complex system of boundaries, (10,000+) officeholders and taxing authorities makes it increasingly difficult for citizens to affect local government services or the taxes that pay for them." (page 3, bottom paragraph) 
Originally recommended by the Kernan Shepherd Report, and it was supposedly passed, that each County was allowed to have an Oversight Tax Review Board, which could look at multiple jurisdictions fiscal requests and then order the new request by a fiscal agent of the taxing jurisdiction to revise their budget and or the new taxes requested, but I cant find anything to stipulate that Allen County put such a Review and Oversight Board in place. Half of the fiscal abuse issues in Fort Wayne and Allen County would be resolved over a years time if such an oversight board existed and kept all the fiscal and taxing jurisdictions in check.

The remainder of the tax and tax abatement issues could be resolved by everyone following an ethical pattern for such abatements, or perish the thought, using this new found authority from the State, and eliminate or severely reduce across the board all business property and personal property taxes, but that would probably be too Libertarian of a view pointe for Fort Wayne City Council to loose their rubber stamp or their pet projects power and control. Lastly why cant Fort Wayne utilize the Allen County process when every other incorporated City does so as well rather than playing crony capitalist and holding up a carrot that has been half molded by the elements of pay for play politics:

The Allen County economic development staff uses a point system to objectively evaluate applications for ERA designation and determine a recommendation for the abatement period. The Allen County Council or appropriate fiscal body makes the final determination. Through professional services agreements, the Allen County economic development staff administers the county's tax abatement program for the cities of New Haven and Woodburn, and the towns of Grabill, Huntertown, and Monroeville. The City of Fort Wayne has its own economic development staff that administers its tax abatement program within its corporate boundaries."

Kernan Shepherd Report refers to the final report on the 10th of December 2007, by the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform, .... Here is the most recent news coverage I could find regarding the very slow implementation of the KSR across the State dated from March 2012,which to give a basic summary, after five years at that time, only thirty three percent considered or even implemented. 

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