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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

TOWNSHIP TAXES RISE..... AGAIN



                                                                                                                                              click on year and month------------------------------------------------------------>
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Surprise, Surprise

With the current dysfunctional township board of Bud Manley (Scotty Manley's father), Kim Meredith, Bob Bolin and Scotty Manley (Bud Manley's son) as Trustee and Scotty's wife as Poor Relief Investigator, Washington township property taxes outside of the city limits have risen again.    To be fair, Kim and Bud vote in lock-step and have voted the residents a tax increase.   Bolin voted against and Bud/Kim voted for the poor decisions that raised your taxes.   

Township Tax Rate 2013    .1498
Township Tax Rate 2014    .1543  (3% increase)

Fire Equipment Debt Rate  2013    .0143
Fire Equipment Debt Rate 2014     .0200  (39.9% INCREASE)

All other taxes in Morgan County for those outside the city have dropped from 2013 to 2014

County Tax Rate 2013         .2227
County Tax Rate 2014         .2218  (.4% decrease)

Schools 2013                        .6427 
Schools 2014                        .6243   (2.8% decrease)

Library 2013                         .0458                        
Library 2014                         .0448   (2% decrease)





WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP

According to the 2010 census, there are 17,073 residents in the township and 7,171 housing units, making it the most populated and richest township in the county.   The average home in the township is valued at $177,314.   With that many residents and valuable homes, the tax RATE in the township should be the one of the lowest in the county.  But wait, the opposite is true.  

INEFFICIENT WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP

A tax rate rate is a measure of efficiency by which the township is able to provide services to the public.  The main service provided by the township is fire protection.  The others are cutting lawns in cemeteries and poor relief.  Despite having the most residents and the most houses with the highest average value of any township in Morgan County, Washington Township has THE most expensive fire service and the third highest overall tax RATE in Morgan county.   Read High Costs and Idle Time.  Read Follow the Money Part II   The numbers below are directly from the county auditors office:

TOWNSHIP                           TAX RATE

Brown                                       .3185
Madison                                    .2173
WASHINGTON                        .1543
Green                                       .1296
Ray                                           .0601
Gregg                                        .0601
Jackson                                     .0598
Clay                                          .0561
Ashland                                    .0362
Jefferson                                   .0348
Adams                                      .0333
Baker                                        .0213
Harrison                                    .0110
Monroe                                     .0004


WHY THE TAX INCREASE??

In an earlier edition of the Martinsville Report, it was reported that the board was considering the options on how to buy a firetruck that BOLIN (ex-fireman) said we do not need and the Kim/Bud delegation wanted to buy.   He was outvoted.  Please read the report HERE, and in that article scroll down to the paragraph titled "A new firetruck".    For your convenience, here is a reprint of that section from the September 2013 Martinsville Report. 

"A NEW FIRETRUCK

The township is buying a new firetruck.  The cost is $219,070.  The purchase has been voted on and approved.  However, the financial judgement of the board leadership is under question here.  With $1.5 million in the bank, Kim keeps pushing Scotty to borrow bank money to buy the new truck.  I am sure that that banks lover her dearly.  She has been asked at these meetings why she is pushing to borrow money for a new truck when we have enough cash to buy 5 new trucks.  No financially logical answer from her or Bud was heard.  Board member Bolin wants to use the available cash to buy the truck and avoid paying interest and regular payments.  IF we are to borrow, Bolin argued that we could actually borrow from our own cash accounts and pay ourselves interest instead of paying banks.  His ideas about keeping the township out if debt were summarily dismissed and discounted by Kim and Bud.

THE REAL REASON

Currently, the township is still paying on a firetruck they purchased a few years ago.  The twice-a-year payment is in the neighborhood of $27K or so.  Bud and Kim want to finance the new truck for an even worse unmentioned and un-discussed township revenue scheme.  IF they finance a new truck, the township will have twice a year payments like they do now.  Those payments my friend, are calculated into the RATE at which you pay taxes.  IF the township buys a new truck with all the excess cash, and pays off the old truck, guess what?  Your tax rate will drop because those twice-a-year truck payments are no longer factored into the property tax rate.  This IS the heart of the matter.  If they "finance" a new truck, your taxes stay high.  If they buy it with cash, your taxes drop, as does revenue (play money) to the township.   2/3 of our board is "dead set" against any meaningful property tax reduction."

FAST FORWARD TO APRIL 2014

The previous 2 paragraphs were almost prophetic.    Kim and Bud voted to borrow the money to buy the new truck.  The truck was to be delivered this year, sometime in April.   The money was borrowed LAST YEAR.  Yes, I said last year.  We have been paying interest for the last 5 months on a loan for a truck that we do not even have.   The township has also been paying insurance to Morgan County Insurance, Kim's Employer, on the truck we do not have.   How does that affect us or even make any sense?

The cost of the old truck, the cost of the new truck, and the new insurance payments on the truck have all been factored into your tax rate.  As shown above, the fire debt tax rate increased 39.8%.  If they would have used the ample cash to buy the truck, your tax rate would have dropped.  THIS, and countless other similar votes by Kim/Bud, are the primary cause of the third highest township tax rate in the county.  In summary, Bud and were told what would happen to the tax rates if they made this decision. They choose to ignore the taxpayers and now you pay more real estate taxes. 

Decisions like this are not an isolated one-off occurrence.   After years of Washington Township board decisions without any strategic planning involved and absolutely ignoring the taxpayers, the tax rates outside of the city have been driven far too high, again and again.    Bad board members and bad trustees make bad decisions.  Bad decisions make higher taxes. 

INSURANCE COSTS

A few years ago, I opened the yellow pages for Martinsville and looked up "insurance".  To my surprise there were many agencies here that sell insurance.    I selected 3 companies and re-quoted insurance on everything I own.    To my surprise again, I was able to save about 30% on my policy that I had had for 20 years.    Morgan County Insurance, which was one of the companies that gave me quotes, was not the most economical.  Why do I bring this up?    

Almost all of the money Washington Township pays for insurance goes to or through Morgan County Insurance.  According to the township year end report published in the Reporter-Times on 1-21-2014, the township paid $159,228 in 2013 for insurance.      Former Board Chair AND current finance board member Kim Meredith is an employee of Morgan County Insurance.  Yes, this is a conflict of interest.  How can one serve two masters?  It is my belief that there is no motivation for her to reduce costs or unneeded township assets, as her company is profiting heavily off of Washington Township tax dollars while insuring everything the township owns and employs.     After attending all township meetings for the last several years, Kim's voting patterns and financial decision making history substantiate this.  It is again my opinion that she is a nice, likable, honest, and affable lady.  However, she should recuse herself from voting in matters that concern asset buying and insurance coverage or be replaced in the next election.     Even the best of us are unwittingly influenced by money.   Unfortunately, her new revived interest in township finances and efficiency seems to correlate directly with the upcoming election.   It will also disappear that quickly after the election.  Overall, many feel that she has been a managerial disappointment and that she is over-aligned with the personal interests of the Washington Township Fire Department employees. 

Kim Merideth

I have asked the trustee and some board members about re-quoting the insurance with some other agency to try and save money.   Only Bob was interested.    Scotty Manley told me that he does not even remember when the insurance was NOT with Morgan County.  No one remembers the township even going out for competitive quotes on insurance....ever.     This in itself shows how poorly the township tax dollars have been managed.  With the gold plated medical policies that the fireman have, and the other insurance expenses (collision, liability, and comprehensive), our payments are excessive.  We do not even know if we are getting a fair price as it has not been competitively bid for years.  We do know however, that the gold-plated medical and dental benefits the fireman have are very expensive, and are BETTER (lower co-pays, lower deductibles, lower monthly contributions by the firemen) than the benefits received by employees at Eli Lilly and Roll-Royce in Indianapolis. But whenever the topic of re-quoting insurance is brought up, the attention span of the township board seems to drift on to the next subject.
   
CHANGE

The next few years are crucial to Washington Township.    The issues that need to managed properly, professionally, and strategically with a plan and with the taxpayer in mind are as follows:

1)  I-69
2)  The new power plant
3)  The TIFF district
4)   Fire department district creation
5)   Funds are being cut by the state

For years, the township board has been run by socially conservative but "Pelosi/Obama" fiscally liberal republicans.   Spending the money of others seems to be no big deal to Bud and Kim.   Just look at your tax rate.  There has also been very little effort to plan the future, or study the present issues of the township by anyone except Bolin in the last three years.  It is apparent that 2/3 of the township board puts very little effort into planning for the meetings or working together for a better future.


THE NEXT TRUSTEE

The next township trustee must to be experienced.   With these crucial issues at hand, we do not need a greenhorn in the saddle and several of them are running.    Mr. Fraker, a candidate for trustee, has a proven track record, has been a fire chief, knows how to manage money when budgets are tight, and knows how to manage people.   He would serve the township well.


A NEW FACE


Ann Miller

Ann Miller is running for township board also.  I sat down with Ann at the Candy Kitchen a few days ago and discussed township issues with her.  Ann has been a resident in Morgan County for 17 years, is married, and has two children.  She has a degree in economics from Indiana University.  I asked her why she decided to run for the township board and her reply was "I'm just tired of the township shenanigans, the mismanagement, inappropriate spending, and the real estate taxes that continually rise."

 I asked her the following questions:

1)  Do you have any relatives in city, county, or township government?
2)  Will you be trying to hire any family members into government if you are elected?
3)  Are you related to any city council members or the mayor of Martinsville or do any work for the mayor?

Fortunately and refreshingly, the answer to all of these questions was "NO". 

If elected, Ann wants to see the fire department managed efficiently and effectively, especially in light of I-69 cutting the town into two pieces.   She is concerned about the effect that the new TIFF district has as it takes money from the schools and the township.   Also, she has promised that she would support having monthly meetings again, not every other month, which Bud/Kim voted for last year.   Understanding that Washington Township Morgan county government is the brunt of jokes in the statehouse in Indy, Ann want to restore the trust and respect of the residents in the township and make township government functional, transparent, and responsive to the needs of the people.  

Ann is articulate, intelligent, cares for the residents and the taxpayer, and wants to serve them well.    She would make a welcome and refreshing addition to the township advisory board.  

   
BUD

Bud Manley is a nice person, grandfatherly, and likable.  However, Bud is far too entrenched in the status quo/good-ol-boy network of Morgan county and should be replaced. At one meeting, someone asked him if he had ever voted for a spending cut or tax decrease and he replied "no".  For that behavior, he should be replaced by someone who is less anxious to spend someone else's money and raise their property tax rates.   He is no friend of the taxpayer.   After 3 years of attending township meetings, I agree with Bud's reply to that question.   I've never seen him NOT vote to spend your money.


SUMMARY

This election is very important to Washington township.   The township board is dysfunctional at best.  The Bud/Kim side will not work with Bob Bolin, and he is for the taxpayer.   Making sure that the candidates that we elect are more concerned about the good of the township and the taxpayer than the good of the "good-ol-boy club" is the best reason to get out and vote.   This township is way overdue for some new, intelligent, and dynamic management.  

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1 comment:

  1. Wow. The truth is scary. We need to get rid of bud and or Kim.

    ReplyDelete