Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

February 11, 2014

MAUREEN HAYDEN: Pence tax plan not winning over locals

Elkhart official: Eye offshore tax havens

(Continued)

The owner of a family farm who’s in his third term as a commissioner, Yoder already has witnessed what happens when local government loses revenue. Between 2009 and 2010, Elkhart County cut $11 million in expenses. He’s proud to say officials did it without cutting essential public services.

He’s doubtful he can make that claim again. The end of the business personal property tax would take about $2.4 million from the Elkhart County government each year, on top of $4.6 million it already loses due to property tax caps imposed by the Legislature in 2008. In all, Elkhart County’s local governments, schools and libraries could lose more than $23 million a year.

Yoder’s vocal disagreement with Pence is echoed by mayors and county officials — Republicans and Democrats — throughout Indiana. They can’t see how local governments will function if so much of the money they’ve relied on to pay police, pave local streets and provide other services goes missing.

The governor keeps promising those local leaders their communities won’t be “unduly harmed” by his plan. His continued refusal to define what that means confounds them.

And it causes a loyal Republican like Yoder to fear the worst.

“It’s just going to rip the heart out of local government,” he said.

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for CNHI newspapers in Indiana, including the Kokomo Tribune. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com. Follow her on Twitter @MaureenHayden.

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