Sunday, January 29, 2006

Geist Annexation Featured in Sunday Star

The Indianapolis Star ran a feature article in today's edition, with a thumbnail sketch.

One notable comment was issued by Fishers Town Council President Scott Faultless. From Bruce C. Smith's report:
For Fishers, the added territory could mean $2 million more a year to pay for police and fire services, parks and roads. The homeowners say it could raise taxes 20 percent for services they already get.

"This is a fight over money," said Town Council President Scott Faultless, who is spearheading the annexation effort.

"It is the motivation for both sides. Everything else is a distraction."

That's the first time Mr. Faultless has been quoted where he got right to the point. He's 100% correct here- it's about money.

The Town wants to take money from the Geist property owners, who want to preserve it.

It only took him two months to cut to the chase. In that time, he was saying the annexation was about unifying the community, the merits of a Fishers address, and other smoke. Now, at last, the truth.

Readers of this blog will recall my Saturday, November 19, 2005 letter in the Fishers Weekly, that ran with the headline, "Annexation is all about taxes". The letter began thusly:
The all-Republican Fishers Town Council has just reinforced what we learned from the all-Republican Carmel City Council: it's all about grabbing tax dollars.

Thanks, Mr. Faultless, for confirming the obvious as seen in mid-November. Better late than never. The letter continued:
The burden is on the Town Council to show that there is something more awaiting them than a higher tax bill.

On this count, Faultless and his fellow Councilors have failed utterly. They keep reverting to the idea that the Geist property owners are getting something for nothing. From the Star report:
"And then there is the fairness issue,'' Faultless added. "The folks living in the (unannexed) holes are benefiting from the town's services, whether they want
to admit it or not."

If the Geist residents are benefitting from Town services, it must be that the Town Council gave away the store at some point, whether Council President Faultless wants to admit it or not. The Council approves the developments that proceed in the annexed areas that surround Geist.

Or, maybe Mr. Faultless is really just a socialist who believes that if you even drive once over a road in the Town, and you live somewhere in the region, you should be taxed for the privilege of having passed on the road.

This is why the Geist residents picketed the GOP fundraiser. They thought Republicans stood for less taxation and smaller government. Stood. Past tense. Only the Libertarians stand for less taxation and smaller government any more.

While in Europe, I had an amusing thought along the lines of the Faultless reasoning. There I was, in Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, and briefly, France. I ran the water in each country. Should I now be a taxpayer to all four nations? I enjoyed their services, after all.

It's a weak attempt at high-minded principle. Here's the real deal-

Forced annexation is wrong, period. People have the right to self-determination, and that should go without saying in the United States of America, the home of the free. The only annexations that occur should be voluntary.

This is the Libertarian position. End of story.

Update: In response to the comments that have ensured, I have a number of links going back to posts that had to do with the various food & beverage taxes that passed throughout Hamilton County, and the Fishers proposal that failed without a vote. It includes my letter of praise for Fishers, which was printed in all of the Hamilton County newspapers. This voluminous activity, and the myriad press citations the Libertarian Party earned, all point to why we took some credit for the defeat of the tax in Fishers.

A similar scenario is playing out with forced annexation- the GOP proposes to tax, the Libertarians stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the affected parties.

June 7, 2005, Mitch Daniels pitches tax increases
June 8, 2005, Press Coverage of my face-to-face with Governor Daniels
June 23, 2005, pre-Pub Crawl work
June 24, 2005, Pub Crawl in Fishers & Noblesville in support of restaruant & bar owners
June 24, 2005, Pub Crawl Press Coverage
June 26, 2005, Hamilton County & Noblesville
June 27, 2005, filled in on WXNT, had restaurant owners on as guests
June 27, 2005, Central Indiana
June 29, 2005, Carmel
June 29, 2005, Noblesville
July 1, 2005, Noblesville
July 10, 2005, Westfield
July 11, 2005, Westfield
July 14, 2005, Westfield
August 11, 2005, Fishers
August 11, 2005, Letter of Praise for Fishers
August 22, 2005, Fishers
August 29, 2005, Fishers Tax Killed- No Vote Taken


Mike Kalb said...

The assertion by the geist annexation opposition that the Town of Fishers is only out to grab all the money they can doesn't really hold water. Fishers was handed the opportunity to collect a 1% tax on all food and beverages sold within it's limits by the Colts stadium deal...and they refused it. That doesn't really sound like something a greedy town would do to me.

Mike Kole said...

The Fishers Town Council was prepared to pass the food & beverage tax in one night, zipping through all three readings, but the Libertarian Party voiced opposition to both the tax and to the method of blowing through all three readings. Upon further review, the Fishers Town Council decided not to be on record having voted for a tax.

In the case of the forced annexations, because the revenue grab would be so superior to the take promised by a 1% f&b bump, the Town Council is sticking by its guns- for now.

There's the key word for you, if you wish to seriously consider whether or not the proposal is greedy- "forced". If this were a voluntary annexation, the contention that this is greedy would go out the window. However, some 80+% of Geist property owners have asserted opposition, and the Town continues on. This tells me that greed is precisely the motivation.

Politically, I hope the Council and the Republican Party continues to do this. It's been excellent business for the Libertarian Party.

Mike Kalb said...

That's interesting that you give the credit to the Libertarian Party. By all accounts (except probably yours) the Libertarian argument against the tax was weak and unpersuasive. The argument by the resturant owners held much more sway. It was obvious though that the council, in the interest of Fishers local business owners and families in general, had already made up it's collective mind that the tax was unnecessary. It's too bad that you would fail to recognize even ONE right thing the council has done. But since you now consider the 1% "bump" to be insignificant (since it didn't pass) I'm not sure if you are true to the principles you claim to espouse. You probably don't use coupons or mail-in rebates either, insignificant as they are.

Mike Kole said...

The issue on this post was the nature of the forced annexations. But I'll address the f&b issues, gladly!

The Town Council did right, but it took some doing to get them there. They were going to have all three readings in one night, until we complained about the process. They changed the process in response to our making issue.

I sincerely doubt that they would have voted the way they did- which was a non-vote- had the Libertaian Party not been active. They chose not to advance the motion for a vote at all. And Scott Faultless argued in favor of the motion the whole way. He was visibly upset with his fellow Councilors at the end of the process.

It was interesting to watch those votes. The Hamilton County Council passed the taxes by a 6-1 vote. Carmel did likewise the next day. The day after Carmel, Noblesville took it on, and after Eddie from Eddie's corner cafe and Noblesville Libertarians spoke in opposition, the vote passed 5-2. Westfield passed theirs 3-2 after I spoke in opposition. By this time, we were sending letters to the restuarant owners. Then Fishers had it's non-vote, precedural disappearance of the issue. It was odd. I would have thought the Council members would have wanted to be on record having voted against a tax. Alas.

The Libertarian Party stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the bar & restaurant owners, and the representatives of the hospitality industry. I'll take political credit for the Libertarian Party, although obviously the appearances of the owners and lobbyists was absolutely essential.

The Libertarian Party and the Kole campaign circulated letters to restaurant owners before the votes were taken, pointing out that the Fishers Town Council is an all-Republican body, and stating that if Libertarians were on the Town Council, we would vote against the tax with all speed.

The Council had to take this seriously, as we have had candidates run for Noblesville Common Council in 2003. Our candidates lost, but they got 43% and 40% each. Those numbers were achieved without any particular issues to run on. We advised both the restaurant owners and the members of the Town Counicl of these facts in our letters and emails, and that the passage of the tax would give us an issue to run on, and that we would run candidates for Town Council.

So, I'm not sure how weak our argument was. What we were saying is "these restauranteurs have supported the GOP for years. Prepare to lose some of them to us if you enact the tax." I think the Council wisely chose not to give us an issue to run on there. I have a list of 400 Hamilton County restaurants, and you best believe I will be courting their votes and support. I know that not all of them will support the LP, but many will, because they know who supported their side, and who didn't- the GOP who proposed and enacted all the taxes & the Democrats who were nowhere to be found through it all.

John Livengood from the Restauarant Association saw Libertarians at two County Council meetings, a Noblesville meeting, a Westfield meeting, and two Fishers meetings. We provided consistent opposition. By time we got to Fishers' meetings, we were joking with each other that maybe we should carpool.

Now there are the owners of 2,200 properties in the Geist area. They know that the Libertarian Party stands shoulder-to-shoulder with them, and that the GOP does not. To be sure, it will be the residents who either defeat or fail to defeat the forced annexation, but they know that they can count on whatever support the Libertarian Party, and I personally, can provide.

Sooner or later, the GOP will have to decide whether or not they care to have the Geist residents as supporters, just as they had to do with the restaurant owners. Some Geist residents will continue to vote Republican. Others will come to the Libertarians. For the Council, it seems the big tax grab the annexations promise is a hard thing to let go of- harder than the 1% f&b tax was. Well, everybody has their price!

Anonymous said...

Mike Kalb should have pointed out his Fishers position, maybe not here but in his letters in the papers.