Boone County Park Tax

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Perhaps you have heard this refrain before Ė donít tax you, donít tax me, but tax that man behind the tree. Those who support continuing the County Park Tax are singing this refrain, but the proverbial "man behind the tree" also includes the proverbial homebound widow in Clinton Township.

Why should a homebound widow in Clinton Township have to pay a County Park Tax when she is no longer able to travel outside her township to use Lebanon Memorial Park, Thorntown Lions Depot, Whitestown Community Park, Advance Community Park, Jamestown Pleasant Acre Nature Park, and the Zionsville Rail Trail? Why should all county residents pay a County Park Tax when there are no county-owned parks? Why shouldnít the residents in Advance, Jamestown, Lebanon, Thorntown, Whitestown, and Zionsville pay for their own parks when they are the ones who most often visit their respective parks?

The Boone County city and towns all are among the top 27% in total 2011 expenditures per capita Ė they spend more per citizen than 73% of the other Indiana cities and towns. Our Boone County city and towns can probably find savings in their budgets if they deem parks to be a high enough priority.

I understand the Lebanon parks situation better than the situations for the other parks located in Boone County. It has been reported that Lebanon will lose $47,000 or one-tenth of its park budget if the County Park Tax is eliminated. The Pay 2012 Lebanon Park & Recreation property tax rate is 2 and eight-seven hundredths cents ($0.0287) on each $100 dollars of taxable personal and real property. If Lebanon decides it cannot find a ten percent savings in its park budget from a more efficient operation, then it might choose to increase its Park & Recreation property tax rate to about 3 and nineteen hundredths cents ($0.0319). There is no reason for informed Lebanon residents to accept this Park & Recreation property tax increase.

Lebanon working families pay a reprehensible Food and Beverage Tax that will not go away as long as the Colts stadium and Indianapolis Convention Center have outstanding public debt obligations. The Lebanon Family Meals tax generated $346,569 in revenue last year. Why canít Lebanon use 13.6 percent of its annual Lebanon Meals Tax revenue to make up its $47,000 revenue shortfall if the County Park Tax is eliminated? On December 31, 2011, Lebanonís Food & Beverage Tax Fund had a balance of $849,185, which could be used to cover 18 years of a $47,000 parks revenue shortfall. If Lebanon declines to improve the efficiency of its Parks Department because the County Park Tax is eliminated, then the Lebanon Family Meals tax should be used to cover any parks revenue shortfall WITHOUT a Park & Recreation property tax rate increase.

The homebound widow in Clinton Township will not see a property tax decrease if the County Park Tax is eliminated because the eliminated tax rate will be spread to other Boone County property tax line items. What this means is that there will be a little more money available to Boone County for public safety, transportation needs, and first-in-a-few years county employee pay increase. Elimination of the county property tax is part of the effort to find $2 million of savings and state revenue increases the next couple of years so that a 15 percent level of county reserves can be prudently maintained without county-wide tax increases.

The County Park Tax supporters are Taxpayer UNfriendly because they appear to believe there is no tax that should be eliminated or reduced, and there is no tax that should not be imposed or increased, to support their "vital" cause. During this time of slow recovery from the Great Recession, Boone County working families need Taxpayer Friendly elected public servants who objectively analyze the importance of parks in the larger context of all essential government services. As just about the last remaining Taxpayer Friendly local governing body in Boone County, I implore this County Council to eliminate the County Park Tax and let the residents in Advance, Jamestown, Lebanon, Thorntown, Whitestown, and Zionsville figure out how to use their available tax dollars to pay for their own parks. The homebound widow in Clinton Township deserves your Taxpayer Friendly decision to let the folks who most often visit their parks pay for their parks.

OUTCOME: On October 9, 2012, the Boone County Council decided to allocate $100,000 from the 2013 county Food and Beverage Tax fund to parks in the county using the same per capita distribution formula (based on the 2010 census) contained in the existing county resolution. The County Park Tax property tax line item has been eliminated.

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This page was last updated on 11/23/12 .