Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

January 19, 2013

Public eye - Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013

By Ken de la Bastide and Scott Smith
Tribune columnists

Wasting no time

Just two weeks after being sworn in as a member of the U.S. House, newly-elected 5th District Rep. Susan Brooks has scheduled a fundraiser.

Brooks captured the Republican Party nomination last May to replace retiring Rep. Dan Burton and defeated Scott Reske in the November general election.

An email this week announced a reception benefiting Brooks to take place Feb. 21 at the Meridian Hills Country Club in Indianapolis. The cost to attend the VIP reception and general reception is $2,500 for two tickets and $1,000 for one ticket.

The general reception tickets are priced at $500 for two people, $250 for an individual and $50 for a member of the Young Republicans.

Could it be she is expecting a challenge in the GOP primary campaign?

A good reason

At the first meeting of the year for the Tipton County Council, newly-elected council member Jennifer Richey was not in attendance.

There was no announcement made during the meeting of why Richey was not in attendance. It turns out she had an excellent reason. She gave birth to a son over the weekend.

Buck causes concern

When you represent a district which is heavily dependent on revenue from a certain source, filing a bill to decimate that revenue source tends to cause consternation.

State Sen. Jim Buck, R-Kokomo, heard about it from multiple sources when he proposed a $253 million annual property tax cut for personal property, which for the most part consists of commercial and industrial machinery. By some estimates, almost 30 percent of the property taxes paid in Kokomo come from personal property.

The bill would cause a 6 percent statewide increase for all other forms of property tax, according to analysis by the state’s Legislative Services Agency.

The Indiana Association of Cities and Towns joined multiple local officials in protest of Buck’s bill, SB375. Buck, however, said he never intended the bill to pass without allowing locals to figure out some way of replacing the revenue they’d be losing.

“It was to get a conversation started,” Buck said. “I wouldn’t support it in the form it’s in now.”

In Kokomo’s case, it’s hard to imagine how the revenue would be replaced. Local government is already struggling, due to the loss of tax revenue from old machinery at Chrysler. Company officials are phasing out machines as they retool their transmission lines.

Buck wasn’t alone in his desire to cut personal property taxes. State Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Monticello, has another version of the idea. Both bills were placed “on hold,” after a discussion in the Senate Taxes & Fiscal Policy Committee last week. There’s a possibility of more discussion later in the session.

Let’s make it easier

During the Tipton County Council meeting local resident Bob Edinger asked council members what minutes from previous meetings were not available.

Turns out a set of minutes from the May, 2011 council meeting have never been presented for approval by the council.

The council also has not received the minutes from the October and November meetings of last year.

At the meeting, council members advised Auditor Greg Townsend to include in future minutes only votes that were taken and a brief description of any discussion that took place.

Townsend said it had been taking as long as five hours to transcribe a verbatim copy of the minutes from previous meetings.