A restructured property tax system, uniform time zone across Indiana and better funding for volunteer fire departments are three key issues state representative candidate Richard E. Thompson plans to push for as he hits the campaign trail in 2008.
The Democratic challenger who is hoping to unseat current District 44 Representative Amos Thomas, a Republican, says he has been receiving as many as 100 e-mails a week from citizens opposed to the current property tax system, especially the fact that the state, in some cases, collected too much tax revenue and is now beginning to issue refunds.
Thompson, who made a stop at the Putnam County Courthouse Monday afternoon to announce his candidacy, is marking his second attempt at state office, having run a year ago for the same District 44 seat, losing to Amos Thomas.
"They need to get it right," Thompson said of the legislature. "Some people have been overassessed and now the state's talking about giving money back. So they didn't do it right to begin with."
Thompson's idea is that instead of issuing refund checks now, the state should give credits to property owners on next year's bills.
"It would have been easier if they credited on next year's taxes," he said. "Just credit it instead of going through all the paperwork and the money -- our tax dollars."
While many critics of property taxes have proposed doing away with them altogether, Thompson doesn't see that as a solution.
"You're going to get taxed somewhere else," he said. "You're going to pay at the end. It's either going to be sales tax or something. It depends on what the majority of the people want."
Thompson added his belief that property taxes based on appraised values, rather than assessed value, can work, but it depends on how it is managed.
"The appraised value is okay," Thompson said. "If they get the bugs worked out and get it worked right, yeah it would work. But the way it is, it isn't working yet.
"I mean there's some property, I'd say, in Heritage Lake that have skyrocketed up there and some parcels in Putnam County. You need to get both (political parties) together and come to a solution."
Regarding Daylight Saving Time in Indiana, Thompson said most citizens he has talked to prefer leaving things as they were before the legislature implemented DST two years ago. If elected, he said he plans to bring the issue up again and hopes to have it placed on the ballot as a referendum.
"I'd like it to be on the ballot and let the people decide," he said. "That's who we have to work for -- the people."
Finally, Thompson has some ideas for volunteer fire departments in the state. Specifically, he is looking for ways to fund training for firefighters.
Thompson is a member of the Bellmore Fire Department, near his home in Parke County, and says volunteers often lack the money they need to get proper training and that the state doesn't offer any assistance.
"Your volunteer has to raise money to go through all their training," he said. "And I think the state ought to look into this because if the volunteer is mandated that they have to have all this training from the state, they ought to be funded for this."
With his announcement this week, Thompson joins Republican Duane Conover of Rockville who threw his hat into the ring last month.
Meanwhile, Amos Thomas, who is in his first term after replacing his son Andy, has not announced if he plans to run again.
State representatives serve two-year terms and Thomas' seat is up at the end of 2008.