Indiana Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations Agenda for Fall of 2015

Indiana State House
Indiana State House

The Indiana Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (IACIR) is essentially a permanent study committee of the Indiana General Assembly. Along with several members of the General Assembly, it also includes representatives of different levels of government in Indiana, and staffing is provided by the Indiana Public Policy Institute (IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs). I am one of the two county council representatives on the commission. IACIR’s mission is to “create effective communication, cooperation and partnerships between the federal, state and local units of government to improve the delivery of services to the citizens of Indiana“.

Our commission’s study and brief on 911 funding last year led to committee chair Rep. Mike Karickhoff’s successful legislation House Enrolled Act 1475, which accomplished the following:

  • Extended the current method of collecting taxes on phone lines (landline and wireless are treated the same) and distributing the revenues to counties for funding 911 dispatch centers, which was set to expire July 1, 2015
  • Raised the 911 fee on phone lines from 90 cents per month per line to $1 per month per line
  • Raised the 911 fee on prepaid wireless phones from 50 cents per transaction to $1 per transaction
  • Authorized the state 911 Board to audit phone carriers for compliance with 911 laws
  • Removes a requirement that a county must impose certain additional tax rates as a condition of imposing an additional tax rate for public safety (known as a public safety LOIT)
  • Allows the body that imposes a public safety LOIT (in Monroe County it would be the Bloomington City Council) to designate a certain percentage (up to 100%) of the public safety LOIT to 911 dispatch, before the remainder is distributed to the eligible taxing units

We just had our first meeting of the fall yesterday (2015-09-28), and will be studying the following two topics this year:

  • Ensuring the ability of local government to provide and fund local services, including discussion of minimum property taxes, adjusting property assessment rules for nonprofits, and enhancing the ability of local government to assess service fees/payments in lieu of taxes.
  • Ways to encourage local government to utilize current tools for improved efficiency and effectiveness, including interlocal agreements, joint purchasing, local government structural and service consolidation, contracting, and public private partnerships (P3).

Both are important topics, but the former is particularly interesting, as it gets to issues of basic fairness in taxation: some taxpayers (both individual and corporate) receive substantial property-tax-funded services, but yet contribute little or nothing to the funding of these services. This topic relates directly to my blog post from last week (Whose Taxes are Abated? The Answer May Surprise You), which revealed that almost $3.2 billion in assessed value is exempted from property taxes, out of a total of $9.8 billion — and this doesn’t even include other units of government, including Indiana University.

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