Thursday, September 18, 2014

Mansfield Responds to Chairman Walker's Claims

Councillor Angela Mansfield
On Tuesday Night, the Administration and Finance Committee tabled the Mayor's proposal to eliminate the local homestead tax credit.  That money, the Mayor claims, would have been used to pay for the expansion of early childhood education.

The Marion County Republican Party was OUTRAGED.  Kyle Walker fired off this news release.
Earlier this evening (Tuesday), dozens of citizens, including many children, attended a three hour meeting of the City-County Council Administration and Finance Committee to voice their opinion on the proposed resolution to support Pre-K funding. Committee Chair Angela Mansfield deliberately pushed discussion of the topic to the end of the agenda, only to quickly table it without taking public comment. The public should always have a voice in the process of local government, but to deny them the right to speak after waiting through a three hour committee meeting is beyond disrespectful. Unfortunately, this is just the latest example of the political games being played by Council Democrats.
The local media ran with Walker's version of the story.  WRTV actually ran video of the outraged (three) citizens arguing with the committee.  Didn't see many children in the video the channel ran, either.

I decided to ask the Chair of the Committee, Angela Mansfield, for comment.  She responded by e-mail.

First of all this was not a pre-k proposal that was tabled. The proposal was to eliminate the homestead credit, period. There was absolutely no guarantee where the money would be spent that if the proposal had passed. In fact several Republicans have stated that they do not want to support pre-k with these funds. Some made such statements during the last council meeting or in interviews later. 
A similar proposal to eliminate the homestead credit was previously heard in the public safety committee with a full hearing and public comment just a few weeks ago. The proposal was amended to remove the language re the elimination of the homestead credit. To have another committee meeting discussion on the same issue was redundant. This was reminiscent of last year when the mayor put the same proposal before us multiple times.

Tuesday, we had a full agenda with six budget hearings. I set the agenda to be respectful of the budget hearing presenters, many who are not part of the administration nor are they city employees. I also told the administration twice that I would not be allowing another presentation on the elimination of the homestead credit. Another reason I had this proposal last on the agenda is because a couple of councillors are notorious for leaving early, if there at all. This had the effect of having all councillors remain for all of the budget hearings.

When the meeting concluded, three of the public members who appeared to be upset that they did not have the opportunity to speak were in fact against the repeal of the homestead credit. Two of them did speak on several of the budget hearings during public comment. Once they learned what tabling the proposal actually did, they were ok.

From my own personal point of view, my constituents experienced a tax increase this year due to the expansion of the special police district. My own taxes went up almost 16% and I have a very modest house. The vast majority of my constituents receive a benefit of the homestead credit substantially greater than the average $22 the mayor continues to tout. Many are $50 - $150.

Again, a proposal to eliminate the homestead credit already received a full hearing and public comment. To do it again would only have been a repeat of the previous meeting.
Hope that clears things up a bit.  Also, (again) check the video.  Not many kids in the room.

Yesterday, Mayor Greg Ballard seemed to have given up for now his neverending quest to get the homestead tax credit money. Instead, he's relying on the Council Dems to come up with a plan to pay for pre-k.

I'm sure they'll get back with you, Mr. Mayor.

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