Saturday, July 14, 2007

Upcoming Anti-Tax Events

Here we are at post #1,000 at Kole Hard Facts, and it's a lazy thing on my part, but important info to pass along. It's a link to a post on Hoosiers For Fair Taxation's blog, outlining several events happening in the very near future, all designed to get the attention of our sleeping elected officials, and to jolt them into action.

Here's the link.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Ron Paul Has More Money Than John McCain?

I read a Washington Times article that says just that. Well! There is some justice in this world! Check out some of this passages about Ron Paul's campaign, from the Times article:
The campaign has outgrown its second headquarters, a 348-square-foot office.

Mr. Paul has more campaign cash available than former Republican front-runner Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Federal Election Commission records show, and the antiwar conservative has become an Internet sensation.

Paul is the one Republican I could happily vote for. McCain is the one Republican I would eagerly vote against. Reading this was just very uplifting, and these days, I find so few political articles that are anything but infuriating. Paul was the 1988 Libertarian Party candidate for President.

Here's a link to Ron Paul's campaign website.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

New Linkage

I have added linkage at the right to the Hoosiers For Fair Taxation blog, in the "My Fellow Hoosier Libertarians" column. They may not think of themselves as partisan Libertarians, but they certainly are working to advance liberty, which is what really matters to me.

Their efforts are extremely timely in light of the current property tax fiasco. They have activities happening within a few days. Check it out!
Fishers-Geist Annexation News

Apparently, there is going to be a special Fishers Town Council meeting, tomorrow, Thursday July 12, at 8:00pm, on the issue of Fishers' attempt to forcibly annex Geist neighborhoods in Fall Creek Township. First thoughts:

Typical short notice on the special meeting. It seems Indiana municipalities are very fond of short and limited notice for special meetings. Is it that the Councils don't want attendance?

I am a Fishers resident who has been against the annexation from the beginning. Mainly, I don't care to have my Town's government growing. It will, as more area to manage means more employees and bureaucrats to govern. Also, I don't want the Town floating bonds against the increased assessed value that the annexations would create. Lastly, I thing it is wrong morally to forcibly annex non-municipal residents who chose non-municipal living into municipalities. If they voluntarily choose it- fine. Otherwise, leave 'em alone.

Here's text of an email I received from a Geist resident who is an opponent of the annexations:
I wanted to let all of you know that Fishers will be holding a special town council meeting Thursday, July 12 at 8:00 the Fishers Town Hall. They will be voting on whether to pull the 4 ordinances regarding the annexations in Geist. If Fishers pulls the 4 ordinances, they will then proceed to meet with individual neighborhoods to try to get them to agree to be annexed "voluntarily".

My belief is that Fishers Town Council members will try to tell people that due to the Carmel case, their goal to annex Geist is all but a done deal. To be clear, Southwest Clay lost to Carmel because of the deal that NOAX (the anti-annexation group) cut with Carmel. The State Supreme Court held that the agreement was binding because enough residents signed it that the remonstration effort could not reach its 65% threshold; therefore, Southwest Clay could not fight the forced annexation any longer. We should not make the same mistake. Fishers is trying a "divide and conquer" strategy. They are hoping to get enough people to get on board with them that The Geist residents can no longer reach the 65% threshold it needs to remonstrate. The FTC thought that we wouldn't be able to meet that 65% mark because of some sewer waivers that were in place. These waivers prohibit people from remonstrating. Even with the sewer waivers (assuming they hold up in court- which is very questionable), more than enough Geist residents are opposed to annexation that the 65% remonstration number can be met. Fishers was not counting on such strong opposition to annexation.

Fishers is hoping that if they offer enough tax abatements to Geist residents that people will give up and sign on with them. Keep in mind that there is a limit to how much tax abatements they can offer, and when that time is up, Geist will begin paying the Fishers municipal tax rate. With the recent increase in property taxes, another taxing entity is not something most of us need or want.

This is not a Fishers vs. Geist battle. It never has been. It is about not wanting a 22%+ increase in taxes to receive services we are already getting -and paying for. While it may appear to be great news that Fishers is pulling these 4 ordinances- it is only a temporary measure. They are waiting to see if they can get enough Geist residents to come over to their side. If they cannot, they will try forced annexation

Please consider doing the following 3 things:
1. Attend the Fishers meeting Thursday night and make your opinions known to the media that will be there.
2. Be very aware that Fishers is pulling a divide and conquer strategy. Please don't let them succeed!!!
3. Pass this message on to other neighbors in the affected Geist area

I am hopeful that I can attend and speak on the record on this issue.The new wrinkle to me is the idea that Fishers would grant tax abatements to the newly annexed Geist areas.

I am very much opposed to any tax abatements if an annexation occurs. That would mean that the existing Fishers residents would be subsidizing services to the Geist residents for the duration of the abatements, which is wrong.

This is the most senseless twist yet. The Town Council has long made the spurious argument that the Geist residents aren't paying their fair share, thus the impetus to annex. Well, if that's the case, stick to your guns! If they get tax abatements, they won't be paying their fair share!!!

This twist really reinforces to me the idea that the annexation is really about adding assessed value so that more bonds can be floated. That means more taxes over 30 years.

It's all bad government.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Property Tax Ruckus

When I'm in Indiana these days, I am frequently conducting title searches for AT&T. My starting point can sometimes be the Township Assessor's offices, when I need detailed property information to start before I go pulling deeds and plats at the County Recorder's Office.

So, what a hoot to research at the following Marion County township offices: Washington, Lawrence, and Warren.

The lines were longest and angriest in Washington Township. Understand that there is rarely any kind of wait for me to get to a public computer for research. At the Washington Assessor's this morning, there were two lines with four property owners each. Every waiting room chair was filled. Every cubicle had a deputy reviewing a property with the owner present. All- and I do mean all- were seeking to file a form disputing the new assessed value.

I overheard one man, at wits end, explaining the absurdity of his re-assessment. He bought his property in 2005 at $180,000. It was re-assessed at $240,000. For 2005. He was beside himself, explaining that his purchase represents market price. He was the market for that house in 2005! Shouldn't his purchase price carry the day? Made sense to me. I had great sympathy for him. I thought he was going to burst a vein in his temple.

This scenario was similar at Lawrence and Warren Townships, just not quite as angry.

It pains me that it requires this kind of pain for taxpayers to finally stir. It bothers me more that the nature of the complaints is merely the new assessments. The assessments aren't the root problem. The spending by municipal and county governments is out of control.

The Governor is now in on the grandstanding, hinting at a possible special session to address the problem of property taxes. Yes, there is some good the Statehouse could do- like eliminate property taxes altogether. They won't do that, though. They'll come up with some new shell game that allows the local governments to spend to their hearts' content while providing the facade of tax relief. From the Indy Star report:
"As governor, I will take every step I have authority to take to help Hoosier homeowners," Daniels said in a statement issued by his office Monday night.
Nice rhetoric. Empty rhetoric.

The calls to the Statehouse and the Governor are misplaced. Call the City-County Council in Marion County. Call Mayor Peterson's office. These are the people in charge of the budgets.

Bottom line: if Indianapolis and other local governments weren't spending so much, there wouldn't have been a push to update the assessments. Re-assessing was seen as a way to gain tax revenues without being perceived as raising taxes. It certainly is raising taxes. Really, especially in the case of those on fixed incomes, it isn't merely taxing, it's confiscatory.

Anyhow, I'm sort of glad the people are somewhat awakened to the absurdity of our tax burden. I'm dismayed that what the awakening suggests is that it's okay to tax us at an incredibly high level, but we draw the line when we stand to lose the house. Yikes.

Tax Freedom Day is a concept I have promoted on this blog and on my radio shows in the past. What is Tax Freedom Day? It is the day that we are through working to pay for government. After that day, you are earning for yourself and your family.

This year, in Indiana, you stopped working for the government on April 23. After that you were earning for yourself. State map.

That's nuts. And yet, we accept it. We only draw the line when threatened with losing our homes. Here's a telling quote from the Tax Foundation:
"Americans will work longer to pay for government (120 days) than they will for food, clothing and housing combined (105 days)," said Hodge. "Since 1986 taxes have cost more than these basic necessities. In fact, Americans will work longer to afford federal taxes alone (79 days) than they will to afford housing (62 days)."
My understanding is that the Boston Tea Party was staged over a 1% tax. Oh, to have that kind of vigilance today!

Go to the various tax protests happening Sunday and Monday. From the Star:
• Sunday: "Black Sunday" asks supporters to wear black to show unity and bring signs to Monument Circle from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Several groups seeking tax reform are organizing the event.
• Monday: Hoosiers for Fair Taxation, which gathered at the governor's residence July 4, will rally at 5:30 p.m. at the City-County Building Downtown.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Light Rail Blahs

This light rail irritant just won't go away. It seems that despite any analysis of real-life non-usage of passenger rail in the vast majority of American locales, the evidence of the conditions required to make commuters choose to ride the rails, the costs associated therein in tax dollars, the injustice of having non-riders subsidize the riders- this boondoggle plods blindly forward here in Indiana. Irritating Indy Star story.

Pressed for time, I'll address just one issue so frequently evoked by supporters when challenged on the taxes or the justice. The comeback is, "well, the interstate highways are subsidized".

Fair enough, but must that mean that we should also subsidize light rail? Saying yes is like saying that if you have an affliction that blinds your right eye, the solution is to blind the left, just to keep them on par.

Rather, let's end the subsidies to the highways. If you ride them, you should pay for them. Nothing more just than a user fee. Those who do not use the interstate need not pay for it. Likewise, those who won't ride the rails, which is to say some 95% or more of us, shouldn't have to flip a dime out of pocket into the suck hole.

The toll highways are the answer. I'm not talking about the Mitch Daniels lease idiocy. I'm talking about keeping the highways in the hands they are in, but assigning a cost to pass. It's easy enough if you get an I-Pass transponder- No need to stop at a toll booth, just drive on through and your account is charged.

Kind of like the water bill. You use so many cubic yards, you pay so much. Better than that, though, there is no base charge. Pass the booth, pass the toll. I hear no complaints about the water bill. Why should transportation be a shell game of hidden taxes and hush-hush subsidies?

To see some other current dialogue on light rail, where my name was evoked, check out Masson's Blog. I've chimed in a couple of times to make a point, all worth reading, if I don't say so myself.