We deserve good government.
I was jolted from years of apathy when local property taxes rocketed from ridiculous to obscene in 2007. I penned numerous opinion letters and became an enthusiastic supporter of the Citizens of Delaware County for Property Tax Repeal in their quest for “Responsible Government Spending, Responsible and Responsive Public Officials, and the Repeal of Indiana Property Taxes”. Though third in line on the mission statement, the repeal of property taxes found its way into the organizations name, as it was a rallying cry in the early days when the sting of excessive property taxes was fresh on everyone’s minds.
It has been a wonderful but bumpy ride, these past three and one-half years. We have made many sacrifices and taken great strides, and have engendered friendships that will endure a lifetime. But as I reflect upon the past few years, I realize that the repeal of property taxes has not been our primary focus in spite of our name. This is partly because HB1001 changed the game when it “temporarily” capped property taxes and provided the path to constitutional caps, and partly because we realized early on that the root cause of our excessive property taxes was a dwindling tax base compounded by overspending by local taxing units. Most of our effort has been focused on following the money spent by local government, and on taxpayer advocacy and education.
The CDCPTR maintains a website with links to City and County budget information, legal forms, proposals, and government meeting schedules, plus a media center with links to local government meetings that are hosted on our website. We have sponsored several informational venues including Candidate Forums, and Four Corners educational events which present information pertinent to the four corners of Delaware County. We hosted a presentation on the impact of property tax caps for taxpayer advocate Aaron Smith of Watchdog Indiana, and the Hoosier Property Tax Reform Alliance’s “Bring it Home” kick-off“, was held at the Hiatt Printing location here in Muncie. We organized bus trips to the Indiana State house so that concerned taxpayers could meet with the Governor, State Senators, State Representatives, the Attorney General, and other concerned taxpayers from all over the Hoosier State. We have also sponsored two Assessment Appeal Help Days to help property owners complete their Property Tax Assessment appeals.
CDCPTR board members and volunteers gathered over 2,200 signatures needed to trigger the modernization and reorganization effort for Muncie and Delaware County, and we were instrumental in the consolidation of assessors, saving Delaware County nearly $900,000 annually. We also advocated for the reorganization of the Morrison TIF which facilitated the return of nearly $400,000 to the various taxing units, including the schools serving the area. We have seen substantial progress starting with the passage of HB1001 and now the enshrinement of the property tax caps in the Indiana Constitution.
With the property tax caps chiseled into the Constitution, it seemed appropriate to change our name to acknowledge that milestone, to redefine and better represent our true focus, and to reenergize our organization. Consequently, the Citizens of Delaware County for Property Tax Repeal has changed our name to the Citizens of Delaware County for Good Government. I’m sure some will consider our CDCGG acronym a tongue twister, but thankfully our new name is shorter than the old one.
We are proud of our accomplishments to date, but know that there is still a long way to go to achieve good government for Delaware County. We will continue to be a watchdog over local spending by the various taxing units. We will attend and video tape local government meetings whenever possible, and will do our best to educate the public on what we see and hear as we firmly believe that Delaware County deserves Good Government.