Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

February 25, 2013

Property owners getting a break

Taxes in annexed areas double.

By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune enterprise editor

— Residential property owners in Howard County are getting a one-time increase in the Homestead Credit on their property taxes due this year.

Last year, Indiana sent the county $1.33 million as a result of a bookkeeping error.

Auditor Martha Lake said the funds didn’t come in time to be included in the 2012 tax bills, so were added to the bills for this year.

Lake said with approximately 23,000 residential properties receiving the Homestead Credit through the Local Option Income Tax. The one time savings will average $58 per homeowner.

She said last year the LOIT provided $6.5 million in property tax relief for local residential property owners and for this year the amount will be $7.8 million.

Howard County Assessor Jamie Shepherd said for most property owners in Howard County, there will be little change in their tax bills.

“The people in the areas that were annexed into Kokomo will see the biggest increase,” said Shepherd.

Shepherd said for property owners that remained in the unincorporated area of the county or already in a corporate limit prior to 2012, there will be little change.

As an example, she said a home valued at $100,000 with all eligible deductions in Taylor Township will see their tax bill increase from $387.79 to $424.19 this year. Shepherd said from the same-valued home that was annexed into Kokomo the tax bill will climb to $711.60.

Shepherd said the county’s overall net assessed valuation went from $3.6 billion for 2011 taxes payable in 2012 to $3.5 billion for 2012 taxes payable in 2013. She said it was a 3 percent decrease.

As a result of the decline in the net assessed valuation in all taxing districts in Howard County, the property tax rates increased for the year in all taxing districts.

Shepherd said the state set the agricultural land value at $1,630 this year as compared to $1,500 in 2012.

Treasurer Ann Wells said more properties hit the tax cap in 2013. She said last year the number was 10,860. In 2013, that number climbed to 26,157.

The estimated amount lost to local units of government as a result of the tax caps this year is $10.3 million, as compared to $4.5 million in 2012.

Howard County is losing an additional $901,473 in revenues as a result of the tax caps to a total of $1.6 million. Kokomo’s revenues will decline by an additional $2.6 million this year to a total of $4.6 million as a result of the tax caps.

Richard Miller, president of the Howard County Council, said the increase in lost revenues through the tax caps was anticipated.

“We have reserves,” he said of the county’s general fund balance.

Shepherd said the projects made during the 2013 budget hearings in September are important at that time so the council can anticipate the loss in revenues.

“We fell on the high side of the projections,” she said.