Until recently, in the state of Indiana there were 1,008 township assessors responsible for assessing our property and ultimately determining our property taxes with no consistent guidelines or standards in place resulting in unfair taxation.

The 2008 General Assembly, in a bipartisan vote, has taken the first step in rectifying this problem by shifting assessing duties to the counties in 965 of the 1,008 townships. The 43 largest townships, including Harrison Township in Vigo County, will vote on Nov. 4 to determine whether or not to follow suit and update a system that has been in practice for over 100 years.

Lack of transportation and technology made township assessors necessary 100 years ago, but today, this duplication of government has allowed for inefficient practices that lack consistency and are ineffective.

The idea of a single elected official is a recommendation of the bipartisan Kernan-Shepard Commission designated to streamline local government. A single assessor would be responsible for ensuring that all property assessments in a county were conducted uniformly. Having a standardized system will ensure that all assessors are living and playing by the same rules.

When our property taxes are done using a single system, it will inject structure and equality into determining our taxes. A standardized system will also help prevent those property owners who have a substantial amount of property located in a single township from having any undue influence on the assessment values.

This is not a change that will benefit business but a reform that will benefit all taxpayers. This referendum will not change taxation; only improve the way that property is assessed.

It was because of an antiquated and bureaucratic method of assessing property that private assessors were required recently to come in and assist in the assessment of our property. Additional help was needed in order to re-assess the property values to assist in the property tax reform that needed to occur in a short period of time.

This issue is not associated with a particular party. Both Democrats and Republicans were involved in this commission and the issue has support of several associations which are invested in sustaining fair taxation and efficient government, including the professional Fire Fighters Union of Indiana; the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership; the Indiana Association of Realtors; along with the Chambers of Commerce across the state and other grass-roots supporters.

Some politicians say “do nothing,” but nothing is what has been done for the past 100 years. It is time to make our government more efficient. Inefficient government costs you money. They are your tax dollars; don’t you want to see them used in an efficient manner?

It is time to vote for fair taxation and efficient government. As a representative of your Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce and a resident of Harrison Township, I urge you to vote yes Nov. 4 on Public Question Number 1, located on the bottom of your ballot. For more information on this subject go to: mysmartgov.org.

— Gary Morris

Harrison Township resident

Chairman of the Board

Terre Haute Chamber

of Commerce



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