Two years after state property tax caps took effect, many counties and cities are finally regaining fiscal solvency. However, drastic budget cuts made in recent years are not giving some communities much breathing room.
Though the City of Terre Haute has made a number of economic development strides since the beginning of the recession, officials say statewide property tax caps continue to drain city coffers.
“Our departments are very bare bones; we’re not replacing positions if they don’t have to be replaced. We’re doing more with less,” said Leslie Ellis, Terre Haute Controller.
Ellis says Terre Haute faces a problem many other communities won’t: dropping property values. But state officials have informed other municipalities their assessed values will fall too.
In Greencastle, Mayor Sue Murray was told her city’s property would be worth as much as 15 percent less in 2013.
In Monroe County, the story is a bit rosier, but many values still aren’t rising . Commissioner Julie Thomas says the county has found creative ways to make up for reduced tax revenue.
“One of the last things we’re going to do this year in the Commissioner’s Office is complete the purchase of the old Johnson Hardware building, which is where Community Corrections is now,” said Thomas. “That will be something where we will not be paying rent any more, which will be nice, and we’ll instead be putting that money back into probation programming.”
With the state announcing a budget surplus of more than $2 billion for the current fiscal session, many in local government have called for the state to return more funds back to them. However, even House Democratic Minority Leader Scott Pelath says chances are slim a plan like that will pass