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Letters Published in April 23, 2008 Issue
Apr. 16, 2008 - Letter submitted by Mary Ann Beard, Rush County Treasurer
Where's my property tax bill? That's a frequent question we are receiving at the treasurer's office this time of the year and rightly so. This is generally the time of the year that we look for our tax bills. But tax reform has been a major issue of our recent legislative session, which ended March 14. Many changes were adopted by the legislature that are to be implemented for this tax cycle. Many issues are still being analyzed and programs are being developed to implement changes required of this tax bill. The good news is that tax relief is being proclaimed by the governor. Local property tax will no longer fund (school corporations') General … and Pre-school Special Education (Funds). All Welfare Funds, Juvenile Incarceration, and State Fair and State Forestry have been removed from the tax roles. There are now caps on the amount of taxes paid based on your assessed value. The caps are called "Circuit Breakers." For property owners with a homestead deduction, (it's) a maximum of 2 percent of your gross assessed value amounts to the maximum amount of taxes paid in 2008. That amount is reduced to 1.5 percent in 2009 and 1 percent in 2010. So if your house is valued at $100,000, the maximum amount of taxes you can pay in 2008 is $2,000 per year; in 2009 it's $1,500 per year; and in 2010 the maximum amount would be $1,000 per year. Those rates vary for agricultural, non-residential, and personal property.
Now is the time of year that you budget for your property taxes. This is the time you receive your tax refund and some have received a property tax rebate from the state legislature for last year’s taxes. Here is an opportunity to assist your community. The spring tax deadline may be a few months away. Spring taxes were not due until July 25 last year. The schools, library, county and city depend on tax dollars to operate. If tax collections are delayed these units may need to borrow funds for operation. That is yet another expense to the taxpayer. This is where you can help. Many answered the call last year and voluntarily paid their taxes. You can help too! You can pay one installment of last years taxes. That installment will be credited on your tax bill when it is received. We urge payment of one installment only. Your 18-digit parcel numbers found on last year's tax bills need to be included. Bills must be paid at the Rush County Treasurer's Office or mailed to the Treasurer's Office at 101 E 2nd St., Room 213, Rushville, IN 46173. Sorry, no payments can be accepted at the bank at this time. Please direct any questions to the treasurer's office at (765) 932-2386. Thank you to those who choose to participate in early payments.
Apr. 16, 2008 - Letter submitted by Nate LaMar, Henry County Councilman District 4
"I know how fear builds walls instead of bridges; I dare to see another's point of view." - a line from the second stanza of the hymn "I Then Shall Live" by Gloria Gaither, to the tune of Jean Sibelius' "Finlandia."
As a Henry County councilman, I did not have a vote on either ethanol plant, both of which are proposed for my council district, 4. I would only have a vote if either request tax abatements. Over the past year, I have tried to educate myself as much as possible on ethanol, trying to take to heart the words from the hymn above, and trying to separate fact from fiction. We are fast approaching the one year deadline imposed by the Henry County Planning Commission and the Henry County Commissioners for ground to be broken on one of the two ethanol plants proposed: Twin Creek Ethanol, between Ashland and Millville. Blue River Ethanol, near Mt. Summit, actually has a year from resolution of litigation to break ground. As such litigation will be decided by a special (out-of-county) judge on April 18, it is past time for me to weigh-in on this issue.
We see a few signs in support of ethanol. We see many more saying, "No Blue River Ethanol." I recently saw one that had been modified. It says, "Move Blue River Ethanol." That has become my position. With 289 homes in a mile radius of the Blue River Ethanol site, tremendous opposition has been generated. Julian Gehman told me he even offered to buy the 13 homes nearest to the proposed Blue River Ethanol site. As all 13 home owners refused, it is clear they do not want it built there. By contrast, approximately 50 homes within a mile radius of the Twin Creek Ethanol site have generated little to no opposition. Mr. Gehman has the financial backing. At this point, it would be in the best interest of Henry County for Mr. Gehman to team-up with Ron Lowhorn and build between Ashland and Millville (same rail line; comparable acreage; a site more "out of sight"). Otherwise, at the rate things are going, Henry County may end up with NO ethanol plant.
Along with Henry County EDC Director Bryan Coats, Blue River Ethanol proponent Julian Gehman, Blue River Valley schools' former school nurse, Cindy Bay, Henry County Highway Dept. employee Ron Gossage, and his son Japheth Gossage (both of whom live across the road from the proposed Blue River Ethanol site), a year ago this month we visited an ethanol plant near Rensselaer, then asked Jasper County locals about it in a nearby restaurant. A few days later, during the marathon Henry County Planning Commission hearing, I testified regarding our Rensselaer visit. Since then, Indiana Agriculture Commissioner Andy Miller has told me that ethanol is like the 1849 Gold Rush, which had many winners and many losers. We are now in a "rush" to see who can build ethanol plants the fastest. U.S. Senator Richard Lugar has always been my role model. I believe in his calls for energy independence. In my job, I occasionally visit Brazil, which is now energy independent, thanks to sugar cane ethanol. It is good to see a soy bio-diesel plant being developed in Middletown. Unfortunately many are developing ethanol plants for all the wrong reasons (i.e., just to get the government subsidy). We have also seen the effects of inflation over the past year, not only by the rise in fuel costs due to our continued dependence on fossil fuels, but also by the rise in corn prices due to the ethanol Gold Rush. Ethanol is not "the" solution to energy independence. As it and soy bio-diesel are among many solutions, we don't want Henry County to end up a loser in today's Gold Rush with no ethanol plant.
As I came of age during the 1980s, I remember a line from the song, "Opportunities" by the British group Pet Shop Boys: "I've got the brains; you've got the looks; let's make lots of money." Ron Lowhorn has the location; Julian Gehman has the money; TOGETHER they can make lots of ethanol! This, I believe, is in the best interest of Henry County.
Apr. 23, 2008 - Letter submitted by Richard and Gloria Hampton of Sylmar, Calif.
The United States was created by the 13 individual states that existed in 1789. They established a federal government with limited powers and very few duties. Each state was to remain independent in most areas.
The people could control federal spending because they elected the members of the U.S. House of Representatives where all money bills must originate. The state legislatures could control federal interference because they elected the members of the U.S. Senate. In 1913, 36 states passed the 17th Amendment to allow voters to directly elect their U.S. Senators.
Since then, the federal government has usurped many powers of the states. We are rapidly becoming a police state. The president is now allowing warrantless seizures and searches, torture, and many other unconstitutional activities. He also is suspending habeas corpus, our right to face criminal accusations in a court of law.
The feds also plan to merge the United States with Mexico and Canada into a sovereignty-destroying regional government with open borders called the North American Union (NAU) by 2010. Go to www.thenewamerican.com for NAU details. Americans need to demand that the feds obey our constitution now, or we soon will be governed by officials we did not elect, just like the European Union is today.
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