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[r30] Howard County: One of the Best in Indiana
Start Date: 3/25/2013Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 3/25/2013End Time: 11:59 PM
Entry Description

Howard County: One of the Best in Indiana

State representatives are provided with a multitude of interesting information from a variety of sources. Larry Blanchard, a Financial Consultant and past member of the Lake County Council, put out an interesting study in November 2012 regarding the cost of county-level core services from 2007 to 2012 – the most difficult time for local government due to property tax changes and the recession. He ranked counties in regard to their budget expenditures for core services per capita. Each property owner who receives and pays a tax bill contributes directly to the cost of county core services. 

Core services include public safety, payment for jury duty, maintenance, jail operations, health services and facility improvements to name a few. It also provides the funding for budgets that are managed by county-elected officials such as the auditor, assessor, recorder, treasurer, courts, commissioners, sheriff, jail and others. 

Not surprisingly, many of the heavily populated counties rank in the top, but I am extremely pleased to report that Howard Co. was one of two counties to have the largest per capita cost reduction out of all 92 counties in Indiana, second only to Carroll Co.  Our reduction was $48.07 per capita over the six years studied; the average difference for all 92 counties was $19.22 per capita, showing that Howard Co. is well above average when it comes to cost reduction.

Howard Co. jumped in rank from 59th to 20th in Indiana – the largest jump of any county in the whole state. The county has found ways to live within its means without sacrificing the effectiveness of its core services, a win-win for residents. The county government reduced the cost to residents by almost 18 percent.

Several factors changed the county budget between 2007 and 2012. Indiana voters adopted a constitutional amendment to cap the dollar total of property taxes a property owner must pay; income tax increases were adopted to supplement the lower property tax revenue; the county’s general fund property tax levy increased due to the application of the annual growth coefficient (the total of property taxes the local government can raise); and the increase or decrease in the dollar total of assessed value of property directly affected how the property tax caps worked.

Howard Co. officials made these improvements through attrition, technology efficiencies, and partnerships with the city.  They were also able to absorb many additional mandates by maximizing the efficiency at which services are provided to the taxpayers. The fact that Howard Co. is nearly debt free contributes to our low rate as well.  Basically, just like the private sector, our local government has done more with less. 

The last six years haven’t been easy on anyone - especially in regard to financial issues. The recession caused many states around the country to fall into the red with a very steep hill, or mountain for some states, to climb out of in order to return to a balanced, sustainable funding stream. I want to recognize the elected Howard Co. officials for their good work, and I truly appreciate their dedicated service to bettering our community.      
 
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State Rep. Mike Karickhoff serves on the Ways and Means Committee and the Natural Resources Committee.  He is also the chair of the Indiana Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations. Rep. Karickhoff represents portions of Howard and Grant counties, most of the city of Kokomo and the towns of Swayzee and Greentown.


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Entry Category:
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  • IN.gov Category:
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  • Agency Name
    House of Representatives Republican Caucus

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