Property Tax Caps


After decades of manufacturing job losses, some Hoosier cities with majority white populations are bouncing back. But Gary, which is mostly black, is still struggling to stabilize.

It’s where former steelworker Mike Mitchell grew up. He pulls up to an empty lot on a quiet side street and stops his car.

“That’s where we used to stay,” he says.

The house where he grew up was torn down years ago. Now, it’s just weeds and wood scraps.

Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

What happens when a mayor takes on one of the nation’s largest employers over a few hundred yards of road?

That’s the situation Todd Barton finds himself in with Wal-Mart in Crawfordsville.

This week on WBAA’s Ask The Mayor, we’ll inquire how he plans to resolve the situation without alienating one of his city’s most prominent investors.

Chris Morisse Vizza / WBAA News

Hoosiers changed the way property taxes are calculated, says Tippecanoe County Auditor Bob Plantenga, when voters in 2009 overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment setting permanent limits on all property taxes.

The total tax bill on residential property can’t exceed 1-percent of the home’s gross assessed value.

Tax bills on rental units, Ag land and long-term care facilities can’t exceed 2-percent of the value. The limit for business and industry is 3-percent.

Chris Morisse Vizza

Property owners will have an opportunity next month to comment on the Tippecanoe County Board of Commissioners' plan to create a new property tax to fund major bridge projects.

Board President Dave Byers says county leaders will likely set a maximum tax rate at about 1 cent per $100 assessed valuation.

County Auditor Bob Plantenga says the property tax increase would trigger state-mandated tax caps, which would in turn, reduce Lafayette’s tax revenue by about $54,000 a year and West Lafayette’s by about $34,000 annually.

Andy Redgrave /

Governor Pence announced his legislative agenda earlier this week, and now Senate Republicans have chimed in with their own.

Senators are proposing mandatory minimum sentences for major drug dealers, endorsing Pence's request for additional money for the Regional Cities Initiative and promising to fast-track a hold-harmless policy for schools whose ISTEP scores drop this year.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long says Republicans are also calling for a $400,000 boost in the $1.25 million cap on malpractice verdicts.

Phillip Ingham /

Hoosiers are benefiting from property tax caps, but the caps are hurting Indiana localities. That's according to a new study from the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute.

The non-partisan organization released two new reports Tuesday. One measures the impact of statewide property tax caps on individuals and households and the other surveys their impact on 18 test-case towns and cities.

Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA

Second-generation West Lafayette farmer Kevin Underwood has three tractors he uses to farm 1,600 acres of land – one is several decades old, another he bought just a few years ago. But while his 30 year old tractor still works well, Underwood says the system taxing what that tractor produces does not.

“The bind we’re in at this point is we’ve got income level going down and taxes and input costs continuing to go up,” Underwood says.

Jim Nix /

The latest numbers given to a study committee of Indiana lawmakers say the state’s property tax caps are worth about $600 million – either for taxpayers or for the state’s coffers.

But the analysis also shows urban areas have been disproportionately hit by the effects of the decreased revenue – despite the fact the tax caps were enacted after residents in some cities, particularly Indianapolis, complained their taxes were rising too quickly.

Indiana Court Of Appeals Strikes Down Bus Payments

Jun 10, 2014
Warsaw Community Schools /

It had already been made illegal by the legislature, but the state‘s Court Of Appeals says charging parents for busing their students to public schools violates the Indiana Constitution.

The appeals court overturned a lower court ruling when it found Indianapolis’ Franklin Township Schools violated the Constitution when it contracted a private company for bus service during the 2011-2012 school year.

A legislative study committee will examine the state’s property tax assessment system to determine if the state’s property tax caps are being manipulated.

State Senator Scott Schneider (R-Indianapolis) called for the investigation after constituents raised concerns about sharp increases in their property tax assessments in an area of Marion County.  The state Department of Local Government Finance will look into the Marion County issue and the Commission on State Tax and Financing Policy – a study committee – will consider the process statewide.