October 20, 2010

Twenty-two months have passed since I was sworn in and I continue to love the job. One of my areas of responsibility is the county highway department. This department has been very active the past two summers under the leadership of Michael Barton. That said, I continue to be asked why we “tear up roads and then not fix them?” There are several examples of our “milling” projects here in Smith Township. What is “milling?” Milling is a process where a large machine literally grinds up the asphalt pavement into small pieces then we mix 2,000 tons of stone per mile with the grindings. The mixture is then smoothed out and usually left to settle through the winter. In the following spring or summer we then seal the road and it looks like a newly paved road. Actually we seal it two and sometimes even three times. If you want to see an example of the finished product drive out and see 450 North between the Blue Lake Road and 800 East. If you can remember what it was like two years ago you’ll be amazed.

This year we milled many, many miles of roads around the county because Mr. Barton was able to make a great deal on the rental of the milling machine. In previous years we paid a company $4,000.00 per mile to mill. Mr. Barton found a company willing to rent a machine to us and allow us to operate it. The rental bill was $32,000.00 which would only mill eight miles under the old method but we milled almost 25 miles using the rental agreement. Of course that means we have lots of roads turned from bad asphalt to “stone” for several months and believe me we hear about that!! Please be patient because beginning next summer we will start sealing those roads and they too will look as good as 450 North. Good things take time!

My final “road report” will concern the Anderson Road. Originally we were going to mill Anderson from 450 East to 650 East last year. Before we got started on it we learned that since Anderson Road is considered by the Fed’s as a “Major Collector” road, we could use stimulus money to repave it. It was a tough decision but we decided to “wait it out” and see if we could get stimulus money. We’ve waited a year now and still no funds have become available so nothing more will be done with the Anderson this year. Currently we are thinking that if no stimulus money is available by next spring we’ll likely mill and seal soon after without waiting through the winter. The good news is the road will be done sooner, the bad news is it won’t have a winter’s worth of driving and packing on it. Sort of darned if you do, and darned if you don’t…..

I think for this edition I would like to end by asking you to please carefully consider how you vote on the question “Should Property Tax Caps be placed in the Constitution?” The premise is that your real estate taxes will be capped at one percent of the assessed value of your home. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? Just consider the old saying, “ if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

When you look at who pushed this legislation through you will find it was done by state legislators, driven by the Governor, major real estate groups and chamber of commerces. The premise? So they can help their campaigns by saying “We cut your taxes!”

What the State of Indiana wants is for all taxes to be funneled through the Indiana Department of Revenue and distributed back to the counties, cities, towns, townships, etc as they see fit to make the distribution. What they don’t want is for you to write checks to the Whitley County Treasurer with local cities, towns, townships, etc receiving funds from the County Treasurer.

Do you want the State of Indiana disbursing money as they see fit, or do you want the taxes you pay kept at home for such things as fire protection, police protection, EMS, etc. Ask the Smith-Green school administration if they like having the money sent to them from the state as opposed to coming from local taxes. You, as the taxpayer, lose control of your own taxes when it goes to Indianapolis.

What it all boils down to is while you might (this will happen only to a small percentage of real estate owners) have your property tax capped, you will lose your Homestead Credit and your local governments will have less money to provide essential services. I guess I call police, fire, EMS protection essential services, perhaps you don’t. Think about it at election time.

Thanks for listening, feel free to call with comments or complaints. My number is 609-2833.

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