Good Government group in Delaware County plans more fun in 2013
By Rick Yencer
MUNCIE, IN - It was the first meeting of 2013 of the Good Government gang Saturday, and they are planning to keep big government Democrats and Republicans alike in line, keeping an eye on the wheel tax, property assessments and growing education costs.
Big Jim Arnold is the president of the Citizens of Delaware County for Good Government that managed to get one of their own, Scott Alexander, elected to Delaware County Council in the last election. Sen. Doug Eckerty, R-Yorktown, was another score for the group known for its billboards, letters to the editor and other high jinks from those Facebook friends like Chris Hiatt and Leon Dixon.
Arnold had a page long agenda including some of the group's usual concerns about tax and spend politicians locally, although the new session of the Indiana General Assembly might draw more ire from taxpayers.
Actually, the Good Government folks are best know for those spring tax season gatherings where Alexander and others help weary property owners with their growing tax assessments.
While the Legislature capped property taxes, there's no cap on how high a piece of real estate, home, business or factory can be valued by assessors. Lots of people recently found their assessments skyrocketing, and Delaware County Assessor James Carmichael promises even higher assessments in 2013.
Arnold believed Eckerty along with Rep.Bill Davis, R-Portland, were working on legislation to correct some problems with reassessment. The deadline for bills to be filed is Monday, and the group agreed it could be a top priority.
The discussion also shifted to the county wheel tax and whether motorists were getting enough streets and roads paved. When members rhetorically asked what streets had been paved, it seemed obvious. Some downtown streets like portions of Walnut, Gilbert and Charles streets saw work and there have been other county roads repaved.
Arnold did not seem to think a significant increase in repaving resulted from the wheel tax. He suggested some billboard or sticker logos Ax the Wheel Tax or Roll Back the Wheel Tax.
Actually, Delaware County Highway Superintendent Chris McCammon recently informed county commissioners that 60 miles of roads had been paved.
Dixon lamented the the excessive spending by public schools, that $55 million bond issue to renovate what he called half empty Muncie schools, and the tremendous cost of per student costs, which Arnold estimated for Muncie at $17,700 per student.
Public education is still in a nebulous as Republican lawmakers consider all types of choice, whether it is vouchers, charter, online or other schools. And locally, public schools make massive investments into building, like Yorktown recently spending nearly $2 million reserves just to update heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
Arnold liked the idea of a billboard about whether little Billy could read for a cost like the five figures he quoted.
Actually, Muncie school board member Tony Costello said that student expense is closer to $6,400, saying the Good Government group was way off the mark.
Look for the Good Government group to continue their You Tube videos of local government and schools. They recently showed up at Yorktown Town Council to recognize them for government consolidation that eliminated its township government and combined it with the town. The new town is one party, run by Republicans, which is primarily the party of Good Government whose elected members are Republicans too.