WBEZ | DUAB http://www.wbez.org/tags/duab Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Gary won’t have to gut budget http://www.wbez.org/story/duab/gary-won%E2%80%99t-have-gut-budget-85151 <p><p>&nbsp;</p><div style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-color: rgb(237, 245, 250); font: normal normal normal 12px/170% Verdana, sans-serif; color: rgb(73, 73, 73); background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; "><p style="margin-top: 0.6em; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1.2em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; "><font class="Apple-style-span" color="#000000" face="Arial"><span id="internal-source-marker_0.8652317443402311" style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; ">The city of Gary got a financial lifeline of sorts Wednesday when the state of Indiana’s Distressed Unit Appeals Board (DUAB) approved the city’s petition for property tax relief.</span></font></p><p style="margin-top: 0.6em; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1.2em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; "><font class="Apple-style-span" color="#000000" face="Arial"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; ">The decision means Gary won’t have to cut $11 million from its budget of $41 million. </span><span style="font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; ">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; ">Instead, the DUAB, is requiring the Steel City to trim just $ 1 million this year. </span><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; ">That was good news to Gary Mayor Rudy Clay who attended the hearing in Indianapolis.</span></font></p><p style="margin-top: 0.6em; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1.2em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; "><font class="Apple-style-span" color="#000000" face="Arial">“Everybody knows our [budget] numbers have been going down the last three years,” Clay said. “I’m gratified the board approved our petition.”</font></p><p style="margin-top: 0.6em; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1.2em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">This is the third year the DUAB has granted Gary an exemption to the property tax caps. Clay expected this year’s petition to come through because the city has cut its budget by about one-third since the Indiana General Assembly approved a state-wide property tax cap three years ago.</p><p style="margin-top: 0.6em; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1.2em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">In 2008, Gary’s budget stood at $63 million.&nbsp;The property tax caps have hit Gary particularly hard because its tax base has dwindled, mostly due to business disinvestment and continued population decline.</p><p style="margin-top: 0.6em; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1.2em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; "><font class="Apple-style-span" color="#000000" face="Arial"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; ">Gary City Council vice president Kyle Allen says the city is also hurting because of tax breaks given to the city’s biggest employer, U.S. Steel.</span><br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; ">He says U.S Steel successfully petitioned the state to reduce the company’s property tax burden.</span></font></p><p style="margin-top: 0.6em; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1.2em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; "><font class="Apple-style-span" color="#000000" face="Arial"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; ">Allen says, given these circumstances, Gary simply needs more tax money to function.</span></font></p><p style="margin-top: 0.6em; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1.2em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; "><font class="Apple-style-span" color="#000000" face="Arial">“You want frugality and you want cities to be efficient but I think people have to recognize that government has to function, especially when it comes to core services,” Allen said.</font></p><p style="margin-top: 0.6em; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1.2em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; "><font class="Apple-style-span" color="#000000" face="Arial"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; ">City officials eventually prevailed in making their case for a property tax cap exemption, but some Gary residents had been on the other side of the argument. More than a dozen residents had asked the DUAB not to grant an exemption, even if that meant cutting city services. They had argued the city should tighten its belt instead of maintaining the highest property tax rates of any city in Indiana.&nbsp;</span></font></p><p style="margin-top: 0.6em; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1.2em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; "><font class="Apple-style-span" color="#000000" face="Arial"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; ">While Indiana’s property tax cap has reduced revenue for cities throughout the state, only Gary has asked the DUAB for state assistance. This is the third and final year Gary can ask for such help from the state from the DUAB, which disbands after this year.</span></font></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 13 Apr 2011 20:44:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/duab/gary-won%E2%80%99t-have-gut-budget-85151 Gary awaits bailout decision http://www.wbez.org/story/distressed-unit-appeals-board/gary-awaits-bailout-decision-85107 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-13/Rudy20Clay.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Officials in Gary, Indiana are awaiting a decision from the state on whether it can avoid making painful cuts to its already bare-bones budget.</p><p>Indiana’s Distressed Unit Appeals Board (DUAB) will decide Wednesday whether to allow Gary to get around the state’s constitutionally required property tax caps, which stand at one percent for homeowners and two percent for businesses.</p><p>If it gets the exemption, the city could avoid cutting $11 million from its current budget of $41 million. If it doesn’t, Gary officials will likely have to make deeper cuts from public safety and other services. Just last fall, the city cut 30 firefighters due to a tight budget.</p><p>Gary Mayor Rudy Clay said he expects the DUAB to grant the city’s request for a lifeline.</p><p>“I’m extremely optimistic that they will approve our petition for tax relief but we take nothing for granted,” Clay said. “We still have a few butterflies but I’m optimistic.”</p><p>Clay made his statement at a press conference Tuesday, where he announced his endorsement of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/gary/gary%E2%80%99s-mayor-backs-former-foe-85106">Karen Freeman-Wilson,</a> his one-time opponent in the Democratic mayoral primary. Clay recently dropped out of the race so he could concentrate on his personal health. He is currently fighting prostate cancer.</p><p>Both Freeman-Wilson and Clay plan to attend Wednesday’s meeting with the DUAB in Indianapolis. The DUAB has granted Gary property tax relief for the last two years. Clay said he expects similar support this year, because the city has cut millions from its budget over the past several budget cycles. He said he expects the board members to reward that effort.</p><p>“We’ve been sort of holding hands now for the last three years. I expect them to [approve] our petition for tax relief,” Clay said.</p><p>The tax caps have Gary particularly hard because its tax base has dwindled, mostly due to business disinvestment and continued population decline. U.S. Census figures suggest Gary lost approximately 20 percent of its residents during the last decade. A smaller population for Gary also means fewer federal tax dollars.</p><p>While Indiana’s property tax cap has reduced revenue for cities throughout the state, only Gary has asked the DUAB for state assistance. This is the third and final year Gary can ask for such help from the state from the DUAB, which disbands after this year.</p></p> Wed, 13 Apr 2011 01:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/distressed-unit-appeals-board/gary-awaits-bailout-decision-85107 Gary residents decry city’s request for bailout http://www.wbez.org/story/duab/gary-residents-decry-city%E2%80%99s-request-bailout <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Use this one.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Richard Barnes has had it when it comes to hearing about property tax relief for his hometown of Gary, Indiana. <br />Barnes traveled to Indianapolis Friday morning to urge members of the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board not to allow Gary to collect another $11 million in property taxes from homeowners and businesses. <br />&ldquo;Property tax relief for the city is tax payments for residents,&rdquo; Barnes told the board. &ldquo;The time has come to provide relief for the residents, not the government.&rdquo; <br />Barnes was among a handful of residents who oppose the DUAB granting Gary an exception to the state&rsquo;s property tax cap. That cap limits local governments&rsquo; property tax rates. Gary is asking for a one-year tax rate of three percent, a higher rate than any other Indiana city. <br />Indiana voters recently approved an amendment to the state constitution that puts the property tax cap on its firmest legal footing. The amendment caps the amount of property taxes for different types of property: one percent for homeowners, two&nbsp; percent on rental units and three percent from businesses. <br />Gary officials told the panel it cannot operate its city within the confines of such caps. <br />If it did, the city would have about a $30 million operating budget for a city that encompassesnearly 60square miles and has 95,000 residents. <br />Just a few years ago, the city&rsquo;s budget hovered at $75 million budget; however, the tax caps and reductions in the amount of tax from U.S. Steel Company &ndash; the city&rsquo;s largest employer &ndash;is forcing the city to make drastic cuts. <br />Just in the last week, the city&rsquo;s laid off more than 30 fire fighters and shuttered three fire stations. <br />Gary Mayor Rudy Clay and Controller Celita Green&nbsp; urged the board to allow relief for this year. Both claim Gary is doing all it can to reduce expenses and is following recommendations set forth by Public Financial Management, a Philadelphia-based firm. PFM was hired at the state&rsquo;s insistence to be the city&rsquo;s fiscal monitor. <br />The DUAB has already provided some tax relief for Gary last year and in 2009, but by next year, the board loses authority to provide any property tax relief. <br />&nbsp;<br />During this final go-around, some on the DUAB wonder if Gary is doing all it can to reduce expenditures. Board member Mark GiaQuinta of Fort Wayne was shocked to learn that Gary city council members earn annual salaries of $26,000, among the highest in the state. <br />He said it should be cut. <br />&ldquo;I think it would be very beneficial to the community and to all of you personally to announce a dramatic decrease in your salaries. I just think it would be a very important thing to do,&rdquo; GiaQuinta said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not going to change anything. It&rsquo;s kind of window dressing. But sometimes window dressing is important.&rdquo;<br />GiaQuinta said he&rsquo;s sympathic to Gary&rsquo;s financial woes and the unique plight of the city&rsquo;s history of social deterioration and industrial disinvestment. He said he doesn&rsquo;t believe there&rsquo;s another city Gary&rsquo;s size that&rsquo;s being asked to make ends meet with a $30 million budget. <br /><br />However, GiaQuinta said Gary needs to look at what more it can do to cut its budget because by next year, it will have no choice. <br />He and other board members urged Gary to look at transferring or consolidating some of its services for health and animal control to Lake County, Indiana. <br />&nbsp;&ldquo;You&rsquo;re going to have to think outside the box. You&rsquo;re going to have to create the new paradigm because you&rsquo;re not going to have any choice (by next year),&rdquo; GiaQuinta said. <br />But city officials contend the county has its own financial issues, and isn&rsquo;t necessarily willing to take on the added cost of shouldering services for Gary residents. <br />Near the end of the city&rsquo;s presentation, several residents had harsh words for their hometown including Jim Nowacki, a longtime critic of Gary city government. <br />&nbsp;&ldquo;The reason the city can&rsquo;t function under the tax caps is because of waste, corruption and the scandalous abuse of the authority given to them,&rdquo; Nowacki said. &ldquo;I want the board to understand that this (Gary) is a nonfunctioning unit of government and not grant relief. What you got here is not simply a unit of government that is in distress. You&rsquo;ve got a unit of government that is a corrupt criminal enterprise.&rdquo;<br />The board is expected to make a decision on the city&rsquo;s request by March. <br /><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Sat, 08 Jan 2011 00:35:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/duab/gary-residents-decry-city%E2%80%99s-request-bailout