Daniels defends tax caps

It’s not over until it's over.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels Thursday stopped in Plymouth, seeking public support for his property tax reform package.

The Governor said he was “very pleased,” that the essentials of his bill were still in place. He added, “I just hope we can keep them there.”

The idea of placing property tax caps on homes, rental properties and businesses remains contentious as the legislative session heads into the home stretch.

Earlier this week, the Mayors of South Bend and Mishawaka were flanked by dozens of police officers and firemen as the tax plan was called “disastrous.”

"You know this is the scare tactic we hear so often,” Daniels said. "The places that are complaining the most are those that have spent the most, therefore are taxing the most. Just remember when any of the spending units say we will lose money, it means a taxpayer will gain money."

St. Joseph County governmental units sand to lose some $63 million in tax revenues to the caps by the year 2010.

In Marshall County, the figure is $1 million.

According to Daniels, "There's no place this is more important than the area of St. Joseph County. 85 percent of the property owners here are above the one percent cap I've suggested."

Seeing the caps succeed may be a matter of life or death for the business of Sharone Smith.

She owns rental properties and has lobbied past legislators for tax breaks. Smith knows all too well how quickly things can change at the end of a legislative session.

"Before I was promised landlords, housing providers, a two percent circuit breaker, two percent cap, and everyone was telling me yes, we think that's fair you're going to get it,” Sharone recalled. “Then I went to bed one night the next day we're in the three percent bracket."

The governor indicated he may be willing to delay the implementation of caps to give local governments more time to adjust to the situation. But Daniels was firm in his belief that the caps need to be imposed at the levels he suggests.

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