Washington Mayor Joe Wellman met with other Indiana mayors earlier this week in an effort to stop a plan Gov. Mike Pence hopes to implement that would put an end to business personal property taxes. If passed, the cuts would mean cities like Washington would lose thousands of dollars from their already strained budgets.
Currently Pence supported bills on the issue that are in both the House and the Senate.
Over four dozen mayors from across the state met in Indianapolis to voice their concerns over the proposed action. “This would mean we would have less money to use for projects and services,” said Wellman. “The bill would also impact the schools.”
In whole, the plan would eliminate $1 billion in revenue that benefits schools, libraries and local governments. “No one wants to pay more taxes,” said Wellman. “But we all want the services from the county, city and schools.”
Pence has often said that Indiana ranks near or at the top for states that have good business environments and many of the mayors wonder what kind of impact the phase-out of the business personal property tax would have.
“All the mayors at the press conference seemed pretty fired up about this,” Wellman said.
“If this passes, that revenue would need to be made up somewhere else. Right now that could shift the taxes from the businesses to the individual taxpayers.”
The state has already reduced the corporate income tax, eliminated inventory tax and capped real estate tax over the last several years.
Wellman said the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns as well as several other similar organizations are unsure of the impact the bills could potentially have on businesses. He said according to some studies he has seen, other states have not been adversely affected.
“Some studies show that businesses are still coming in,” said Wellman. “Tax abatements for businesses could possibly be eliminated if this passes.”
Schools will also take another hit if the tax is dropped.
Dr. Dan Roach, superintendent of Washington Community Schools, said if passed, the corporation would be losing a substantial amount of funding.
“We’ve already lost money from the circuit breaker,” said Roach. “Our district has really attempted to make cuts already. I don’t think anyone can argue that we want services within in the community. We want good schools but there are only so many cuts that can be made.”
It is unknown when the bill, if passed, would take affect but both Roach and Wellman are hoping for the best and that the bill will be turned down.
“Our children and our community deserve better,” said Roach.