My campaign is based on five key principles. Each week I take a deep dive into one of the five principles. Over the past two weeks I’ve explained what improved transparency looks like and how historic preservation can be an economic development strategy.
The third principle is a greater respect for the Noblesville taxpayer.
I pay close attention when the tax table comes out each year. The table lists tax rates for Hamilton County towns and cities and it’s a good way to see how the communities compare to each other. Noblesville’s city tax rate is the third highest in the county, behind Sheridan and Arcadia.
Small towns struggle because they have a small tax base, we have a much larger tax base in Noblesville but our rate is comparable to the smaller towns. In fact, Atlanta’s rate is lower than ours. Worse yet, we compare poorly to our peer cities, despite the fact that they all have had huge public projects recently. Our city rate is 33% higher than Westfield and Carmel, and 52% higher than Fishers, which means we pay $530 more in taxes each year than Carmel and $723 more than Fishers on a home assessed at $200,000.
That doesn’t even include the trash fee, a tax disguised as a fee, and the fact that Noblesville has had more school referendums than any other community in the state, which raise our taxes even higher. Renters are hit harder still because rental properties have a higher tax cap than owner occupied homes. According to several landlords, if they charge $1,500 a month in rent, $300-$500 of that goes directly to taxes.
So, what’s going on? We’ve had a lackluster economic development effort over the past decade or more. We need to grow our assessed valuation (i.e. tax base) to help relieve the residential taxpayer and you do that by increasing your commercial and industrial base. Our efforts pale in comparison to other Hamilton County cities and it shows in our tax rate. We’ve been losing ground to them for years. You can’t hide from the facts.
The willingness to give tax relief to corporations that don’t need or deserve it is also to blame. Tax abatement’s are meant to help spur economic development by helping corporations who are willing to build in economically challenging areas, but we give them away like candy to businesses who build on our most desirable land. It amounts to millions of dollars each year and helps keep our tax rate high. It’s just very poor management.
I promise to take a close look at TIF (tax increment financing) Districts to make sure they are performing as promised and are not being abused. I will make sure they’re being used properly to the benefit of you, the taxpayer.
Noblesville taxpayers have been very patient, but we cannot maintain this stagnation and lackluster performance for another four years. The time for change is now.