A speed-up in the implementation of property tax caps could cost the city of Kokomo $2 million if the amendment containing the new language becomes law. Mayor Greg Goodnight said he’s worked to keep property taxes from being used in the city’s general fund calculations, but adds the loss of revenue would be equivalent to cutting more than four percent of the city’s budget. The specter of further revenue decline makes it even more important, Goodnight said, to make cut costs which won’t reoccur.
“Don’t say ‘we’ll put off buying police cars for a year or two’ or ‘we’re not going to buy computers this year’ — all that’s going to do is delay the inevitable,” he said.
The mayor said the prospect of a sharp drop in property taxes may have blinded some Hoosiers to increases in the state sales tax and resulting cutbacks in city services in many places. However, Goodnight said he hopes to get back some of the money the city could lose through federal stimulus funding, for which the city may not yet be done applying. Goodnight admits thousands of city dollars have already been spent on the application process, but he says the potential reward outweighs the immediate cost.
“Who would not spend five, ten thousand dollars of time and energy and resources to bring in $500,000?”
Goodnight said he hopes to show Howard County — with one of the state’s highest unemployment rates — is ripe for an influx of federal cash. Some of that cash could, in turn, be used to bolster the area’s sagging auto industry, perhaps as it transitions to a workforce building electric cars.
“Some of those jobs may or may not be, but I think the jobs that we’re looking at — if we can get the right fit — will do well in Kokomo and that would help some of these people in the engineering, the technician jobs and the skilled trades,” Goodnight said.
Speaking on WFIU’s “Ask the Mayor,” Goodnight said he believes factories in north-central Indiana could be retrofitted to manufacture parts for automobiles which aren’t primarily petroleum-powered, but admits both the costs and the risks of making the change are greater during a recession than during an economic high tide.