The Fiscal Conservatives of Hamilton County received an email from John Tuohy, with the Indy Star asking for comments from our group about a potential commuter tax for Hamilton County to help pay for Marion County roads.
Since I am the “official” spokesman and Chairman of our organization, I was volunteered to call John back and share our position. Initially I thought this was about trying to get HamCo taxpayers to join in the boondoggle that Indy residents recently made lifetime commitment to fund through an income tax. My position and for the most part the position of the FCoHC on mass transit is well known.
I quickly realized this was a new, more devious, taxing scheme design to compensate for what appears to be administrative incompetence on behalf of Mayor Hogsett.
Tuohy said “he heard” there was support in HamCo for a commuter tax to help Indianapolis pay for their road maintenance. I assured him that we haven’t heard one taxpayer mention it on any of our social media platforms. Now it wouldn’t surprise me if the Mayors and Commissioners in our county supported it as there seems few taxing opportunities they waste but that didn’t make sense either. Why would our Mayors wish to tax us HamCo citizens and send our tax money to another county?
I briefly reviewed the regional food & beverage tax brilliantly conceived by former Governor Mitch Daniels that “encouraged” the donut counties to contribute to the new Lucas Stadium (err he meant instead) the new convention center. But that “encouragement” came with a stipend for the counties and municipalities. I quickly realized unless the mayors wanted reciprocity from Marion County citizens to pay our communities the same tax rate when employed in Hamilton County ,then there is little incentive for them to go along with this idea.
In 2016 the General Assembly came up with some accounting trickery and gave every municipality in the state a one time COIT payment. Marion County received something in the neighborhood of $55 million dollars so it is a fair question to ask what happened to those funds as everyone is now dodging potholes. Last session they raised the gas tax to generate $1.2 billion annually. I admit, I haven’t reviewed exactly how that is dispersed to the municipalities but we contend we are being taxed more than enough as it is.
We won’t completely dismiss a business only tax based on the number of employees that work outside of Marion County, IF, the business community gets on board. However, you must recognize any tax on a business is essentially a tax on their consumers so you will all end up paying this anyway.
In closing, the Fiscal Conservatives of Hamilton County do not support any new tax to fund Marion County's road maintenance. That likely comes as no surprise to anyone.
Bill Smythe lives in Fishers, Indiana, FCoHC Chairman, family man and Entrepreneur.
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