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Shreve proposes freezing seniors’ property taxes

Mayoral candidate Jefferson Shreve proposes freezing property taxes

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Republican mayor candidate Jefferson Shreve on Monday said his plan to freeze some property taxes would cost a fraction of several proposed city projects.

Shreve said he wants to establish a program to allow seniors on fixed incomes to cap their property taxes. The program would establish a so-called freeze fund paid for through the city’s bond borrowing authority. The program would be voluntary.

If a homeowner opts into the program, Shreve said the city would cap their property taxes at the amount they paid the last year before they joined the program and use bond money to make up the difference. The city would get the deferred tax revenue back from the proceeds once the homeowner sells the house. He said he also would consider making the program available for first-time homeowners whose assessed valuations rise by a certain amount, such as 15% in a year.

“It’s primarily aimed to enable people that have lived in neighborhoods long term that want to stay in their home, to provide them that stability which extends to the stability of the neighborhoods that make up the fabric of this city,” he said.

Assessed valuations have risen rapidly in Marion County over the past few years, meaning property taxes have risen with them. Data from the Marion County Assessor’s Office shows that assessed valuations rose by 17% between the 2021 and 2022 tax years.

Earlier this year, homesteads with an assessed valuation of $250,000 or less received a one-time property tax credit of $150, and homesteads valued between $250,000 and $400,000 received a $100 tax credit, amounts that covered 90% of homeowners. The City-County Council approved the tax credit last year at the urging of Mayor Joe Hogsett, a Democrat seeking a third term. In a statement to News 8, Hogsett’s campaign criticized Shreve’s idea of borrowing money to make up the lost revenue.

“Mayor Hogsett has led from the front in addressing higher property tax burdens, whether through collaborating with the City-County Council to provide 90% of Marion County homeowners with property tax relief this spring, or by initiating an anti-displacement pilot program in the Riverside neighborhood that will protect older homeowners on fixed incomes. Shreve’s half-baked scheme would jeopardize the City’s AAA bond rating with the Trump-style playbook of borrowing money to cut taxes. It’s clear Jefferson Shreve has no idea how public financing works.”

Blake Hesch, Joe Hogsett campaign manager

Shreve dismissed the criticism, saying his proposal would cost a fraction of the $625 million city officials are borrowing to finance the Signia Hotel project. Asked why he didn’t simply call for cutting the tax rate, Shreve said the city has to charge property taxes consistent with state law, which requires the city to base them on assessed valuations.