In an effort to create dialogue between different communities on declining city and county government revenues statewide, The Association of Indiana Counties is holding community forums across South-Central Indiana. However, a Monday forum in Bloomington quickly turned into a lengthy discussion on November’s property tax cap referendum.
Officials from the Association of Indiana Counties were careful to say putting property tax caps in the state constitution would have varying effects, but did allow that the cons may outweigh the pros in some areas. Monroe County officials who spoke were more direct, saying local governments will be ill-equipped to respond to declining revenues under the restrictions placed on them by such an amendment. Bloomington State Representative Matt Pierce said even without the recession, property tax caps will strain local governments.
“And yet it will have the impact in many counties of severely limiting the amount of revenue that can come in,” Pierce said. “And that’s the ultimate problem. So the recession is playing a role in the difficulties that the state and local governments are facing but this policy put in place by the legislature is actually going to create a greater, long-term crisis for local governments.”
Still, AIC Executive Director David Bottorff explained there are other actions local governments can take to counter declining revenues.
“One of the things we’re talking about is how important it is for cities and towns, libraries and school corporations to work together on things like joint purchasing and ways that they can save money and stretch dollars because they just don’t realize that the economy just hasn’t caught up to their budgets yet.” Bottorff said.
But the meeting, which an AIC press release says was called to join elected officials and the public in a discussion of best practices, stayed mostly on the topic of the tax caps and attracted fewer than a dozen members of the Bloomington community.