Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Opinion

March 24, 2013

Editorial: The mayor's right about future city finances

Mayors across the country are noted for dwelling on the positives of their cities, and we think that is appropriate. After all, mayors should be proud to live in the cities they are representing.

Locally, Mayor Allan Kauffman has been an erstwhile champion for Goshen and its many wonderful attributes. And on Thursday, during his State of the City address, he once again ran through the many accomplishments of his staff, local entrepreneurs and the projects that have been accomplished.

We too have proudly touted those accomplishments during the past few years. We have also written about how Goshen has evolved into an artsy, active community with infrastructure and amenities that few other cities our size have.

But there is a challenge ahead, which the mayor, as caretaker of the city government, rightly pointed out. That challenge will be to maintain the city’s infrastructure and services as the full impact of the state’s property tax caps take hold.

The real concern is not just the caps, but also includes the reduction in the assessed value of property in Goshen that has occurred during and since the recession. Businesses have closed, homes have be foreclosed, few new homes and commercial structures have been built and because of all that, assessed values have declined.

The mayor said one additional problem is that many property owners are behind on paying their taxes.

When all those conditions are combined, the mayor said Goshen will receive $10.7 million in property taxes this year. That’s far below the $13 million the city received in the pre-recession year of 2008.

This lack of revenue spells trouble with a capital T. While not the only reason our city has grown, even during and after the recession, and why both retail and industries are now expanding in Goshen, our city services and the infrastructure we have are key ingredients in our economic health. In the past the city has been able to provide adequate water and sewer lines to industries, create new roadways to those industries and provide good fire and police protection throughout the community.

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Poll

Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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