What does Indiana General Assembly hold this year?

In 2008, the Indiana General Assembly passed sweeping legislation to put tax caps in place on property taxes depending on the type of property.  This caused dramatic distress in many municipal budgets, first trying to ascertain the level of effect and then trying to once again scramble to keep up with State mandates.

These changes were on top of equally dramatic changes in assessing property to try to move to a market based system, and changes in TIF and Redevelopment laws.  If you’re anything like our clients, this has all been a whirlwind to you and you’re ready for the Holidays.

What does 2009 hold though?  Will Indiana Cities and Towns be hit with yet another set of far reaching reforms and mandates from the state?  One group which strongly supports the Kernan-Shephard reforms is suggesting that 2009 could hold even more dramatic changes, especially at the county level.   We are NOT endorsing these opinions, but they are important enough to all of us to pause and consider.   We welcome your input, and as always please visit our website:  Indiana Municipal Finance Consultants

In short order, everything.  Three of the twenty-seven recommendations of the Kernan-Shepard Report have been implemented, but with the overwhelming decision by the voters to do away with the majority of the remaining township assessors, legislators are taking note and MySmartgov.org is preparing.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:

Marilyn Schultz is executive director of Mysmartgov.org, an alliance of interests working to implement the report’s recommendations. She said last week she was encouraged by the voters’ response in townships where assessing duties were put to the question.

“We think we have some momentum from our great success on Election Day,” she said. “A year ago, there were 1,008 township assessors in Indiana, and today we have 13.”

As a former state budget director, Schultz knows the budget-writing task will be foremost on lawmakers’ minds, but she hopes to drive home the point that government must “squeeze the absolute most services from the dollars we have,” insisting on greater efficiency and accountability.

Bills are now being prepared to encompass each of the Kernan-Shepard recommendations, save for the assessing and welfare funding changes already implemented. No legislative sponsors have yet been identified, but Schultz said there are lawmakers willing to carry them all, even the school district consolidation measure that will undoubtedly draw the most fire.

Sen. David Long said this month that the report, prepared by a bipartisan panel, nicely prioritized the local government task ahead.

“We’ll go after the low-hanging fruit first,” he said.

Recommendation one is to replace the three-member board of county commissioners with a single, elected county chief executive, and the second is to combine fiscal and legislative functions of county government in a single, unified council.

Long said he believed there is bipartisan interest in allowing individual counties to determine whether they will adopt the changes.

Look, we understand that the rest isn’t going to be easy to get through. We know that the school consolidation will probably be the hardest part to pass. But we’re encouraged that legislators are listening and getting ready to act.

But as this article notes, and as Jen already mentioned this morning, support is continuing to grow for further consolidation of local government.  And if the actions of the Washington Township Board in Marion County isn’t a prime enough example of how township government still thinks it’s safe and needs to be eliminiated, I don’t know what is.

Tired of local government acting like it’s above the law?  Tired of it wasting your hard earned tax dollars?  Think government should be more efficient and should work for you rather than the other way around, then sign up and get involved!

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Indiana county councils reviews all budgets under HEA 1001

Indiana County Councils begin budget reviews

House Enrollment Act 1001 (HEA 1001) requires for the first time this year, that county councils in Indiana review all budgets for municipalities and townships (and other taxing units) in each county. There is some confusion about the actual affect of these reviews, since they are not binding.

Porter County will begin their reviews tonite.

VALPARAISO | After spending four long nights pouring over the details of more than 90 budgets within the county government, members of the County Council will begin work tonight on their new responsibility of reviewing the budgets of nearly every other local taxing unit.

At least some of the council members question the value of the additional work, considering they were not given the power to take any action in response to their reviews.

Cender and Company will be assisting LaPorte County in conducting their reviews so that they don’t feel additional pressure to add staff for the new task. If you are a council member or county staff assigned with this new responsibility let us know, we’d be glad to assist in this chore.

Indiana Local Government Consultant – New Website

We are currently designing our totally new website for Cender and Company here in Indiana.  We’d like to get as much input from municipal government and public sector clients as possible.  What would you like to see on our site?  What kind of articles would you read and find useful?

  • Redevelopment TIF
  • Impact of HEA 1001
  • New laws as they relate to bond financing in Indiana
  • Budget reviews as mandated for county councils
  • Property tax impact on local government entities of tax caps in HB 1001
  • Interest rate alerts
  • Planning and Annexation regulations, effectively planning for growth in Indiana cities, towns and counties
  • Sewer, water, park, school, and road impact fees.

Seriously, we’d like your input, what would be interesting and helpful enough to you our clients to visit regularly?  We are focusing on our theme:  Solutions to Unique Challenges.  What are your unique challenges that we can help solve?

Department of Local Government Finance Extends Dates on Budgets

Special Alert for Indiana Local Government Entities and Taxing Units, released by Department of Local Government Finance on August 1, 2008:

Amended Timeline of Local Budget Process

August 1 Assessed values to be certified by County Auditors. Date unchanged

August 1 On or before August 1, taxing units must file proposals to adopt Cumulative Funds with DLGF. Date unchanged

September 20 Last date to adopt CPF and bus replacement tax rates. Date unchanged

November 10 Last date for first publication of proposed budget. Must be at least 10 days before the public hearing. Original Date: September 10

November 14 Taxing units, other than schools, must submit proposed budgets to County Councils for non-binding review at least 15 days before the unit’s adoption date. Original date: September 15

November 17 Taxing units with appointed boards, other than schools, with proposed budget increases more than 4% from the prior year, must submit the proposed budgets to either the city/town fiscal body or the County Council at least 14 days before these appropriate fiscal bodies hold budget hearings. Original Date: September 16

November 18 Last date for second publication of proposed budget. Must be at least three days before the public hearing. Original date: September 17

November 20 Last date to file excess levy appeals, other than shortfall appeals, with the DLGF. Original date: September 19

November 21 Last date for public hearing. Must be at least 10 days before the budget adoption date. Original date: September 20

December 1 Last date for budget adoption. Original date: September 30

December 3 Last date to file budgets with the County Auditor. Must be no later than two days after the budget adoption.

December 17 Last date for County Auditor to prepare a notice of the proposed tax rates to be charged on each one hundred dollars of assessed valuation for the various funds in each taxing district.

There are more details, of course, so call our offices at 219-736-1800 or email for first available municipal local government finance consultant at office@cendercompany.com we would be happy to assist your local government agency or municipality in efficiently meeting these new deadlines and all requirements of HEA 1001.

Source: DLGF, Indiana 8-4-08

Indiana HEA 1001 Resources and Links

As soon as we started posting stories and commentary on Indiana House Bill 1001 we got requests for links to resources online for Indiana Cities, Towns and Counties.

Indiana Association of Cities and Towns – most visitors here are probably already members, a couple presentations on this site deemed useful in the early days of the rollout of HEA 1001.   Legislative Wrap-up Presentation.

Indiana Department of Education – memo on effects of HEA 1001

Indiana County Commissioners review of House Bill 1001 and county budgets in 2009 and 2010.

Indiana Planning review of effects on Redevelopment, TIF’s going forward

Update:  We’ll keep expanding and adding to this list as we get county and municipality specific reports in during the second half of 2008.  If you need assistance reviewing your budgets (required by the new law) or estimating the impact of HEA 1001 please call 219-736-1800 or email: office@cendercompany.com today.

Cities, Towns and Counties in Indiana worried about HB 1001

It seems like every day we get a call from an Indiana City, Town, or County entity concerned about budgets and the impact of the circuit breaker tax caps applied by Indiana House Bill 1001 in March.

If you need assistance reviewing your options, or an impact study completed quickly call today or email office@cendercompany.com

Some newspaper articles on this subject just today:

County council hosts meeting tonight to address property tax bill

PALLADIUM-ITEM • July 30, 2008

The Wayne County Council hosts a meeting at 6 p.m. today to provide information on House Bill 1001, the bill that puts caps on assessed values for homes, rental properties and businesses for property tax purposes.

David Bottorff, executive director of the Association of Indiana Counties, is the speaker.

The meeting is not open to the public but is open to any member of Wayne County town councils, city councils, and library, township, school and sanitation boards.

The meeting is in Council Chambers at the County Administration Building, 400 E. Main St., Richmond.

For more information, call the county council office at (765) 973-9200.

Officials say they must work together to make budgets work

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Several local officials attended the recent Greene County Council meeting to discuss working together when it comes to upcoming budget cuts.Bloomfield School Superintendent Dan Sichting explained, “We were there to discuss House Bill 1001 and circuit breaker.”

House Bill 1001 caps residential property taxes at 1.5 percent in 2009 and 1 percent in 2010. It caps rental property taxes at 2.5 percent in 2009 and 2 percent in 2010. It caps farmland and business property taxes at 3.5 percent in 2009 and 3 percent in 2010, he noted.

It’s imperative that the taxing units work together due to these cuts, Sichting explained. When one district has a tax increase it will affect all of the taxing districts in the county.

For example, if a new library is built in the eastern part of the county it would impact negatively all of the taxing districts in the county, Sichting explained.

“It’s very important that all the taxing districts communicate,” he stressed. “We wanted to start the dialogue … whether we like it or not we can’t operate in isolation (with our budgets). We can’t do that anymore.”

So local officials have agreed to share pertinent information with one another, he added.

“Obviously not all the effects of House Bill 1001 are known at this time,” Sichting explained. “It’s (bill) an 850 page document. Not all the effects of it have been determined yet. As those determinations are made we have agreed to share information.”

The sharing of information is a good first step, he noted.

“(In the past) we operated in isolation, but now with circuit breaker there’s only so much revenue available and that’s why it’s important that we work together and share information,” Sichting added.

Linton Mayor Tom Jones — who also attended the recent meeting — agrees that working together is imperative.

“The whole consensus here is we have to come together as a county,” Jones said. “Now we really need to come together and work together as a unit. We will still have our own niches, communities and our own things we have to do. But we’ll have to get smarter as to how we buy things. Maybe we’ll buy as a group.”

The cuts will have adverse effects on local government’s cash balances and services, Jones noted.

“We should have been doing this (working together) all along,” he explained. “We just need to tighten our belts. But I don’t think people will be satisfied with the services they receive.”

Utilities will not be adversely affected, but the fire, police, street, park and cemetery departments will feel the crunch.

Those services will be cut by 5 to 10 percent, he noted. You’ll see less blacktopping and signs being replaced, among other things.

“We (city of Linton) are going to attempt to not lay off,” he explained.

With all the upcoming cuts and changes, Jones remains optimistic.

“I’m optimistic about what will happen. I think we’re in a prime position … Greene County as a whole has had opportunities that we’ve not had in five or six years … things are starting to come together. We may be prime for small investments or larger investments.” Jones said.

He also believes House Bill 1001 may soon be tweaked.

“I think the new legislature that comes in will tweak this bill a little bit. There’s still a lot of unanswered questions,” Jones added.

Auditor Dave Bailey, who serves as the secretary to the Greene County Council, noted that those local officials in attendance during Monday’s meeting discussed the effects of House Bill 1001 and how to work together in the future.

“No legal action was taken. It was all discussion,” Bailey added.

Those in attendance also included Jasonville Mayor Roy Terrell, Eastern Greene Superintendent Ty Mungle, Linton-Stockton Superintendent Ron Bush, Shakamak Superintendent C.G. Epple, and White River Valley Superintendent Layton Wall.

Municipal Consulting Website – First Page

At last, the first page of our brand new municipal consulting website arrives today!

No, we don’t have all the pages for interaction running

No, we don’t have the RSS or the email opt-in for newsletters on municipal finance, bond finance, redevelopment TIF’s or any other Cender and Company services rolling

We really want input from our current and future customers as we build this site together.  We really don’t want a pretty brochure, we want a solid interactive site that actually helps our customers … Key public sector clients that demand unique solutions to local problems and challenges.