Monday, May 12, 2008

Public Forum on Property Tax "reform"

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Article published May 12, 2008
If you go
The Common Council's public meeting on House Bill 1001 will be at 4 p.m. Thursday in the Recital Hall of Century Center, 120 S. St. Joseph St., South Bend.
For more information, contact the city clerk's office at (574) 235-9221.

Public forum on Indiana property tax reform scheduled
Ripple effects of House Bill 1001 starting to show.

Tribune Staff Writer

SOUTH BEND -- Property tax bills may be lower and sales tax is up, but those aren't the only things that will change in the future because of the Indiana General Assembly.

On Thursday, the public will have a chance to find out the full effects of House Bill 1001 and talk to government officials about the impact. House Bill 1001 is the property tax relief legislation passed by the General Assembly during the last session.

South Bend Common Council will host the meeting at Century Center, and the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns will give the presentation. A question-and-answer period will follow. Officials from South Bend, St. Joseph County, Mishawaka and the county townships have been invited.

The ripple effects of House Bill 1001 are starting to show, as local officials look for ways to trim budgets and comply with the roughly 550-page law. Here are a few ways the law has affected the community so far:

# The state sales tax increased 1 percent at the beginning of April. The money from the increase is meant to be used for property tax relief.
# The St. Joseph County Public Library is closing all of its branches on Saturdays this summer. The library board also has approved a $300,000 reduction in purchases of new books and other materials in its 2008-2009 budget.

# The St. Joseph County assessor's office has been busy preparing to take on township assessing duties. Most of the township assessors in St. Joseph County will be eliminated by July 1. Voters will get to decide whether to keep the Portage and Penn assessors in a referendum in November, because both townships have at least 15,000 parcels.

Local officials say that House Bill 1001 will severely affect services such as public safety, schools and libraries. All of the taxing units combined in St. Joseph County could lose an estimated $34.6 million over the next two years.

Staff writer Jamie Loo:
(574) 235-6337

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