Karen Freeman-Wilson Delivers Gary’s State of the City Address
Despite all its challenges, the greatest asset the city of Gary has is its people. That was the message from Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson in the State of the City Address on Friday. Freeman-Wilson said Gary’s property tax burden was shifted by state statue to provide relief among industrial tax payers, putting more of the burden on residential and commercial tax payers, but because of the need for relief after the shift, the property taxes were capped. Freeman Wilson says Gary went from having a $40 million dollar to a $19 million dollar property tax budget. The mayor said tough decisions had to be made in 2012 relative to that because that was the first year the Distressed Unit Appeals Board no longer existed. There was also $43 million dollars in debt. The Mayor says the city has now paid down $17 million dollars of that debt. The city has diversified its budget leveraging over $15 million dollars in federal or philanthropic grants. Freeman Wilson says the answer to Gary’s challenges is not to get federal dollars, but to use federal and private dollars and to grow Gary’s accessed valuation so that it can spread out the property tax burden and increase the number of property tax payers in the city of Gary.
Sharon Jackson, Lakeshore News