Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Letters to the Editor

August 22, 2013

With current spending, city is unsustainable

Dear Editor:

I recently read the letter by Rick Fayette about non-profits being exempt from property taxes on rental properties.

Tax laws are the purview of state governments, so the local argument may be a moot point unless citizens all across Indiana agree that the law should be changed. I think the letter brings up a valid issue but misses some important points.

First of all, I submit that property taxes on rental properties should be considered a cost of doing business ... like maintenance, utilities, and insurance. Property taxes pay for police and fire protection, streets and sidewalks that provide access, and community amenities that increase the value of all properties.

By spreading the cost of service to exempt properties across the community, the loop-hole causes the public to provide financial support to non-profits whether they would otherwise support them or not. Non-profits already receive exemptions from income taxes which seems to be a fair public contribution to the non-profit mission serving the community.

Secondly, the mathematical theory behind property taxes is pretty simple: Divide the cost of government among the eligible properties to determine the rate. By excluding some properties from the equation, it increases the effective rate on all other properties. A good strategy for keeping rates low would be to include more property or reduce the cost of government.

We began that strategy in earnest in the 1980s when I was the director of the local chamber of commerce. Looking around at the many community improvements over the last 30 years, I would say that Greensburg has done well. Community facilities have improved immensely, and the quality of life has truly been enhanced. Greensburg and Decatur County were fortunate to have a forward-thinking core of leaders at the time, and the community has reaped many of the anticipated returns.

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