Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

March 31, 2013

Public Eye - March 31, 2013

Scott Smith and Ken de la Bastide
Tribune staff writers

— What’s a TIF?

There was supposed to be a meeting of the Kokomo Redevelopment Commission last week, but it was canceled. That was probably good news for the Howard County officials who are dreading the possibility of Kokomo city officials capturing huge amounts of new property tax revenue through tax increment financing.

For those not familiar with a TIF district, it’s a method of financing public projects much preferred in Carmel. When some new source of property taxes arrives — such as a factory adding large amounts of machinery — the city where that new source is located can divert the new revenue into a separate account.

Capturing the new revenue with a TIF means the property taxes generated by the new project won’t be used to help shoulder the overall tax burden. So instead of all of the county’s property taxpayers getting some help from the project’s revenues, only the TIF district’s bank accounts receive help. If the new source of revenue is going to be around for a while, the TIF district can bond against the revenue stream to fund projects.

Whether the city will try adding any new TIF districts is unclear. The city already has one TIF in place, which captures taxes generated by new businesses locating downtown. The redevelopment commission is in charge of that revenue.

County officials, however, are clearly concerned. The county’s total tax base shrank considerably when Chrysler got rid of its old machinery, and county officials have been hoping the new machinery Chrysler is adding will fill in the hole.

We shall see what happens next.

the lay of the land

Since taking office as Indiana’s 5th District representative in the U.S. House, Susan Brooks has spent the first three months learning her way around the workings of the nation’s capitol.

During a stop in Tipton last Wednesday, Brooks said it was difficult to judge what issues facing the members of Congress had bipartisan support and an actual chance of passage.

Brooks said it was an honor to be in the House chambers when President Barack Obama gave the State of the Union address.

She commented that her basis for support on proposal from Obama was a simple one.

“When people from both parties stood up to applaud, I figured there was broad support and a chance that legislation would be adopted,” Brooks said. “It happened on immigration and tax reform. It didn’t happen very often.”

Brooks was asked about dissension among members of the Republican Party in Washington, admitting the party has various groups.

“The question is does the leadership have enough votes what is being brought to the floor,” she said. “The challenge is to hold things together to get measures passed.”

Brooks said during a conference there was lot of reflection following the significant election losses in 2012.

“We lost the presidency and didn’t do as well as expected in the Senate,” she said. “We’re the minority party in Washington.”

spring is finally here

The long-awaited Opening Day of the 2013 baseball season is here. Ken roots for the Mets, who will contend for worst team in baseball. And Scott roots for the Reds, who may win the World Series. Whoever you root for, enjoy the season.

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