Bart Peterson’s Letter to Marion County Property Tax Payers

Making the rounds via email:

July 20, 2007
Dear Neighbors:
We have taken the first important steps toward long-term property tax reform. The Governor’s order of a Marion County reassessment is welcome news to our friends and neighbors who have been shocked by the unacceptable tax bills issued this month. Thanks to the reassessment, Marion County tax bills will be frozen at 2006 levels. Although this immediate fix is enormously helpful, we will continue to push for a special session of the General Assembly to harness the momentum and frustration of the community and translate that into long-term reform of our broken property tax system.
As community concern has risen, so has the flow of misinformation. It is important that we all understand the facts and causes for the dramatic increases many are experiencing. Some have argued that runaway city government spending is the cause of the increase. This couldn’t be further from the truth. We have been frugal, cutting $83 million from our budget, and have led the charge for government efficiency and consolidation. In fact, the city’s portion of the property tax bill has actually decreased significantly since I took office and the city tax rate is about the same as it was in 2003. Further, city and county expenses were only 2-3% of the total property tax increase for Marion County.
The source of the increase is complex. The tax rate in Marion County is made up of dozens of taxing units that are under the control of independent boards and separately elected officials. The real cause of the property tax increases has been a combination of many factors including:

  • The elimination of the inventory tax, which has shifted the tax burden from businesses to homeowners this year.
  • The apparent under-assessment of commercial property, shifting the tax burden to homeowners.
  • The State capped the “property tax replacement credit” which provided annual relief to property taxpayers.
  • Many school capital projects hit at the same time this year.
  • Mandated state payments for child welfare and juvenile incarceration increased dramatically in 2006 & 2007.

As a result of the reassessment, Marion County Treasurer, Mike Rodman announced that the tax bills are now due on August 10, 2007 and instructed taxpayers to pay the amount listed as due on your tax bill from last year. If you are unsure what to pay, check online at and click the link for “View your new 2007 property tax.” If you have further questions, call 327-4444. In addition, I have activated a team of lawyers to give assistance during special evening hours.
As I have said from the beginning of this crisis, now is not the time for finger- pointing or playing the blame game. Working together with the Governor, the legislature, and our City-County Council, we will get this fixed.
Bart Peterson

Boy, I wish he had left off the first sentence of the last paragraph, ’cause that just sounds Republican.

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