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Position Statements

Member & Industry Advocacy Staff:

Chris Pryor

Lex Fay

MIBOR currently has position statements on the following issues:

Controlled Smart Growth
Each community defines smart growth for itself, but the MIBOR hopes to see all such efforts guided by five principles:

  • Make a commitment to housing opportunity and choice, a wide range of urban, suburban, and rural homes at all price levels for a diverse population.
  • Build better communities with good schools, low crime, quality public services, efficient transportation systems, ample recreation areas, open space, a strong employment base, and a viable commercial sector.
  • Protect the environment by controlling pollution and encouraging preservation of natural resources and properties of historic significance.
  • At the same time, respect our Constitutional rights to freely own, use, and transfer real property.
  • Implement fair and reasonable public sector fiscal measures to ensure that the cost of new infrastructure is shared proportionally among those served.

Energy and the Environment
The State of Indiana and it municipalities’ must develop a balanced and comprehensive energy and environmental policy. The policy must emphasize energy conservation through education and include market-based conservation incentives. Government-funded energy research aimed both at developing new energy technologies and reducing the environmental impact of existing energy sources, must also be expanded. The hydrocarbon based energy sources whose emissions are most adversely affecting public health and the global environment must be reduced by these steps and replacemed with less harmful sources such as nuclear.

Tax credits to encourage higher standards of energy efficiency in new home construction and remodeling, and the purchase of hybrid vehicles and other energy efficient products should be made permanent.
There should be an increase in funds earmarked for home weatherization for low-income homeowners, and the program should be expanded to include active and passive energy systems.
Funding for research into energy conservation and renewable energy technologies for home, consumer, automotive, and industrial uses should be expanded.
Laws to encourage greater use of public transportation and car-pooling should be expanded. Improved incentives for business use of the home and health care insurance deductions would promote telecommuting and home-based businesses.

Impact Fees
MIBOR opposes the imposition of excessive impact fees under any condition. REALTORS® believe that impact fees ultimately increase the cost of housing because actual costs are passed on to the consumer through increased lot and/or housing prices.

Moratoria
MIBOR opposes establishing a temporary zoning moratorium. Recognizing the negative impact a zoning moratorium will have on property values and on economic development within a community, MIBOR opposes establishing a moratorium for the following reasons:

  • A moratorium of any magnitude will serve only to foster continued unproductivity and preclude numerous planning options. Further, we do not feel that imminent peril to public health, safety or welfare exists, which would justify a moratorium.
  • Placing a moratorium on development would be unfair to long-term residents wishing to sell or develop their property in the near future. Residents who wish to sell or develop their property during the time in which a moratorium is in place will likely receive a lower price or would be prohibited from developing it.
  • Municipal revenue and income would suffer from a decrease in fees and taxes being received. Although moratoria are temporary, the impact on municipal revenues can be long term due to the loss of economic development and business opportunities that will locate elsewhere.
  • Moratoria hurt jobs and the local economy. New development is one of the most important economic engines to local economies. Each new development creates opportunities for hundreds of jobs, i.e., surveyors, appraisers, lenders, carpenters, plumbers, salespeople, etc. By stopping new development opportunities for a period of time, a moratorium can result in significant layoffs, increased local unemployment, and a downturn in the local economy. Economic development opportunities do not wait until a community decides it is ready. They move to other cities, counties and states that are ready, and take the jobs and tax revenues with them.
    And in doing so, MIBOR continues to oppose initiatives that negatively impact the real estate industry.

Property Taxes
The following is a list of services conceptually attached to property usage:

  • Public safety: fire, police, courts, jails
  • Infrastructure
  • Planning/zoning

Specific Objectives:

  1. Reduce dependency on property taxes (fees) by:
  • Moving public education funding (general operating and capital funds) from property taxes to the state.
  • Moving child welfare funding from property taxes to the state.
  • Exchanging property tax for broad based taxes, such as income and sales taxes, regardless of revenue neutrality, including instituting user fees where appropriate in lieu of property taxes.
  • Moving remaining services, those not attributable to property, to local income and sales taxes.

    Rationale: The three primary types of taxation, sales, income and property, have become unbalanced in relation to the equity of the burden on the property tax portion. Therefore, reducing dependency on property taxes redistributes the burden to other sources in a more equitable fashion.

     2. Increase efficiencies, effectiveness, and accountability of government. By lowering the cost of government and increasing transparency and accountability through structural change by including:

  • Eliminating redundant unnecessary services.
  • Reducing layers of government and taxing authorities.

    Rationale: Current government is complex and not transparent; therefore, government services should reflect current needs. Government simply needs to maximize the use of monies earmarked for services.

     3. Ensure a broader based equity through redistribution of the burden by eliminating all exemptions and deductions on real property.

         Rationale: The current property tax system unevenly distributes the burden; all should share equal burden.

Rental Restrictions
Recognizing the negative impact a rental restriction will have on economic development within a community, MIBOR opposes establishing any city-wide ordinance restricting the lease of newly constructed residential homes for the following reasons:

  • Restricting a new homeowner’s ability to use his/her property within the confines of the law is a major violation of the owner’s property rights.
  • Such ordinances claim that lease restrictions can protect property values of new neighborhoods; it may have the opposite impact.
  • A restriction takes away the flexibility of homeowners to avoid foreclosure when life-altering events occur, such as a job transfer or divorce, by renting their homes.
  • The increase in vacant or foreclosed homes will have a stronger impact on neighborhoods than the claimed impact of rental housing.
  • New communities are much more likely than older communities to have protective covenants that address the nuisance issues described in rental restriction ordinances. As a result, new communities should not have more restrictions than existing communities, as new communities are more likely to have covenants that already address nuisance issues.
  • New development is one of the most important economic engines to local economies. Each new development creates opportunities for hundreds of jobs (i.e., surveyors, appraisers, lenders, carpenters, plumbers, salespeople, etc.) Hindering new development opportunities can have a detrimental impact. Economic development opportunities do not wait until a community decides it is ready.

Regional Transportation
As the population of the Indianapolis region continues to grow, need for adequate, regional mass transit funding needs to be secured. This region is estimated to grow 16 percent by 2020 and will have significantly increased commuter traffic as a result. We estimate that in the nine county area, if one percent of commuters use mass transit or carpool, it will free 21 miles of traffic congestion on our roadways.

To accommodate central Indiana’s current growth and economic vitality, we must ensure adequate, regional funding for the Regional Transit Authority (RTA). RTA is charged by the Indiana General Assembly to study viable sources of transit. MIBOR continues to support the groups recommendations.

Reasons for Support:

  • Affordable public transportation will help as a greater demand for service continues and a dedicated funding source is needed for completing and operating the project. A regional funding source is needed too as all counties involved will see a return on the investment.
  • With a predictable, dedicated source of funding, transit operations will be able to better plan for the future and meet growing demands of central Indiana. Also, funding should grow at a rate that is at least equal to the rate of inflation and meet the needs of rural, suburban, and urban service areas.
  • Support and use of public transportation reduces traffic congestion and improves air quality in service areas and their surrounding area, programs such as Commuter Services of South Central Pennsylvania demonstrate this through its promotion of mass transit and carpooling. These efforts have a positive impact on our roadways and the environment.
  • More access to alternative modes of commuting can significantly improve air quality in the region. This improved air quality will also improve the quality of health for county residents.

Summary:
MIBOR strongly urge the business community and public officials to support our region receiving more funding for mass transit. This mode of transportation allows convenient travel while mitigating traffic, improving air quality, and increasing the safety of our continually growing region.

State and Local Budgets
Mortgage and consumer interest rates have a major impact on homeowners. Deficit financing by state and local governments competes for a finite source of funds and drives up interest rates for homeowners and other consumers. Governments should operate with a balanced budget. All programs and tax cuts should be subject to pay as you go rules and budget caps. No program, entitlement, or tax deduction should be exempt from scrutiny as a source of cuts in order to fund more deserving uses, and those who can more readily share the burden should be expected to do so.

Transfer Fees
REALTORS® staunchly oppose transfer taxes on properties transferred in a given year to subsidize services whose benefits will be enjoyed by the entire community. REALTORS® oppose using the transfer of real property as the triggering mechanism for the enforcement of laws, regulations, and ordinances, or imposition of government imposed fees or taxes that make real estate transactions less affordable. Costs associated with programs for the public good i.e. land banking, affordable housing, etc., should be shared equitably throughout all members of a community. Real estate should not be singled out to pay for programs and services that benefit the entire community.

Water Utility
After reviewing the proposal to sell the city’s water and sewer utilities to Citizens Energy Group, MIBOR has determined that this proposal falls in line with our already established public policy positions in the areas of building better communities, protecting the environment, and implementing fair and reasonable public sector fiscal measures. Therefore, MIBOR supports the sale of the city’s water and sewer utilities to Citizens Energy Group.

Furthermore, MIBOR believes this proposal will be:

Good for homeowners

  • Citizens has a proven record of providing customers safe and efficient utility services
  • Citizens, being a public charitable trust, is focused on its customers bottom line
  • Combined utilities will result in efficiencies to reduce future rate increases

Good for neighborhoods

  • Fixing crumbling infrastructure such as sidewalks, and eliminating septic systems will improve the health and environment in our neighborhoods
  • Eliminating abandoned housing reduces opportunities for crime and contributes to the stabilization and enhancement of property values

Good for our city

  • Addressing our long ignored infrastructure will have a positive impact on our economic development efforts and enhance our quality of life
  • Having Citizens overseeing future infrastructure decisions removes the politics that have resulted in many of our current challenges

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