(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) - The City of Lawrenceburg may be doing away with property taxes while council also denies Mayor Dennis Carr’s proposal for new grant and loan programs.
On Monday, City Council members Jane Pope, Mike Lawrence, and Doug Taylor said they were putting the people of Lawrenceburg first in proposing a 2013 budget that essentially eliminates the City property tax. It amounts to savings of about $5.5 million for city property owners next year.
Property taxes are the main source of revenue for cities and counties. The supporting council members said in a news release that the city receives enough money from its agreement with Hollywood Casino parent company Penn National Gaming to run the city.
“Although the City has received approximately $1 billion from the gambling boat over the last seventeen years, it has never before eliminated the property tax or even offered you any form of tax relief,” a news release from the three council members stated.
Pope, Lawrence, and Taylor say the new budget without a need for property taxes marks a fundamental shift in the way the city serves its residents.
The advent of casino gaming in Ohio threatens to reduce the income the City of Lawrenceburg receives from Hollywood Casino. A 2010 study by Spectrum Gaming Group determined Cincinnati’s casino – set to open in Spring 2013 – could siphon $181 million a year in revenues and $57.4 million in taxes from the three southeast Indiana riverboats.
“But as long as the money from the gambling boat is at least enough to run the City, this tax relief for the people of Lawrenceburg can continue,” the group collectively said.
A final vote on adopting the 2013 city budget will be held Wednesday, October 24 beginning at 5:00 p.m. at Lawrenceburg City Hall. Council must adopt a budget by November 1.
Council Says "Nay" To Mayor’s Grant and Loan Committees
Pope, Lawrence, and Taylor are also opposing Mayor Dennis Carr’s proposed grant and loan programs. The trio opposed ordinances creating the programs.
They argue that the mayor would have control over all grants and loans given out to businesses and municipalities.
In voting against the proposals, the council members’ main concern was that control of the city’s money would be taken away from council – the people elected to handle city finances – and given to a committee made up of people appointed by the mayor.
“Even worse, the ordinances tighten the Mayor’s control by allowing the Mayor to remove any member of the committee any time he wants,” the council group said in a news release.
Four other reasons were given for Pope, Lawrence, and Taylor’s opposition to the ordinances including the ordinances’ failure to put qualified people in charge of the program; failure to make the programs accountable to residents; failure to require any meaningful economic development in return for the grant or loan; and failure to establish any objective criteria for evaluating applications and determining which grants and loans should be awarded.
“This doesn’t mean the City can’t give grants or loans when and if legal and appropriate; it most assuredly can,” the news release said. “However, such requests will have to come before Council for approval.”