expert meets with county officials
Cathy May, Contributing Writer
On August 30 Ripley County Farm Bureau held a seminar conducted
by Ms. Katrina Hall, the Tax Specialist for Indiana Farm Bureau,
Inc. Hall served for ten years on the Indiana State Board of Tax
Commissioners and is respected as the leading tax expert in Indiana.
The meeting, held at the Osgood Grub Co., was for selected Ripley
County officials. Hall presented a review of the New Local Option
Income Tax. This program has been offered to all counties but only
eight have adopted the program because the deadline of July 31 did
not give counties enough time to understand the options. The governor
has now extended the deadline to the end of the year.
As Hall explained, the New Local Option Income taxes can be adopted
on top of what taxes each county has already on the books. Option
A is Levy Growth Replacement. Once this option is taken, it cant
be decreased or rescinded. The Department of Local Government Finance
estimates the first year rate will be .4%. Then the second year
the rate will go down to .2%.
Option B is a dollar for dollar replacement of property tax for
income tax. There are three ways to direct the taxes: Uniform Property
Tax Replacement Credit, Homestead Credit or Credit on all residential
property and rental. Farm Bureau recommends the Uniform Property
Tax Replacement Credit because it affects all taxpayers. This should
reduce Property Tax by 27 1/2%.
To choose Option C you must have also chosen both Option A and Option
B. This is new money. It is called the Public Safety Option. Hall
explained that Public Safety is broadly defined. This money is shared
by the county as well as cities and towns. For Ripley County, this
tax of up to .25% would bring it up to $1,180,756 a year.
Part of this plan would also include a County Board of Tax Capital
Project Review. It would be established on January 1 of 2009. Two
of the nine-member board would be newly elected nonpartisan citizens.
Other members would be appointed by elected bodies. The County Auditor
would be a non-voting member unless there is a tie vote.
This board would review all rates and levies of all units. They
would approve or disapprove all Capital Projects more than $7 million.
The goal is to curb levy increases and coordinate projects. For
example: if a school had a Capital Project of $10 million at the
same time the county decided to have a project of $7.4 million,
this board has the authority to make one project wait so there wouldnt
be a double burden on the taxpayer.
All three County Commissioners attended the meeting: Bob Reiners,
Chuck Folz and Lawrence Nickell. Five of seven County Council members
were also there: Donald Dunbar, Dephane Smith, Ed Armbrecht, Juanita
Kaiser, and David Simon. The County Council now has until the end
of the year to decide if they want to participate in the Local Option
CATHY MAY PHOTO
Tax expert Katrina Hall, gives information to Ripley County
officials at a special meeting sponsored by the Ripley
County Farm Bureau, held last week at the Osgood Grub
Co. Members of the County Council will have until the
end of the year to make a decision on the tax play they
feel is best for the county.