About 50 Merrillville residents and town officials gathered on June 14 at the Dean and Barbara White Community Center to learn about Town Taxes. It was the first of, hopefully, a series of Town Talks that we would like to host to give the opportunity for residents to learn about a variety of topics involving town government. We are not sure what the next talk subject will be yet, but my colleagues and I will be discussing the next steps soon.
Our guest speaker, Michael Griffin, knew the subject matter. With prepared slides, pie charts, and graphs, he explained how municipal government taxes work. It was very evident he studied Merrillville’s budget and gave the town an “A” as to how we handle our budget and various, numerous town accounts to provide services to Merrillville residents.
His use of humor, at times dry, broke up the unexciting topic of taxes. Mr. Griffin did an amazing job of keeping the information flowing and highlighted what areas of the budget were most interesting to a home or business owner in Merrillville. He provided his “talk” at no cost to the town and came with a significant body of experience. I struggled to shorten his impressive bio and the list of his extensive accomplishments and awards during my introduction. We were incredibly lucky to have such a knowledgeable presenter.
The Q and A panel consisted of representatives from the Merrillville School Corporation, Meghan Damron, CFO, and Superintendent Nicholas Brown, Merrillville Police Department Administrative Assistant Lori Sanfratello, Trista Hudson, the financial advisor to the Town Council from Cender and Dalton Financial Advisors, Robert Swintz, the town bond attorney and Tax Increment Finance District advisor, and Pat Reardon, Merrillville’s Town Manager.
The panel fielded questions from the audience and assisted Michael after the bulk of his presentation concluded. We will be posting a video of the entire presentation as well as the slideshow on the town’s website linked below using the button.
I was hopeful for a larger audience but realize that taxes just may not be an exciting topic. We hope to grow the Town Talk program and continue to share information with all residents supporting transparency in town government. For our first Town Tax Talk, I was pleased with the outcome and hope to adjust topics, and presentations in the future. -Rick Bella, Town Council President, Ward 5 Representative – Town of Merrillville