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$4.1M budget hole gets a little deeper for Lake County

Updated: October 20, 2012 6:17AM



CROWN POINT — A fourth go-around at the 2013 Lake County budget did little to reduce the $4.1 million that must be cut.

Instead, that shortfall became larger by another $100,000 after the council in a budget workshop Tuesday approved 6-1 the state-mandated salary increases for probation officers, the sheriff and chief public defenders. Councilman Daniel Durnaulc, R-Highland, voted against the measure.

Officials also are looking at another more than $17 million in requests and obligations for the 2013 budget year.

“Until we address the $4 million we can’t even begin to address the rest,” Council President Jerome Prince, D-Gary.

Officials are considering all options, from drastic cuts to borrowing the needed money. Council members are looking at the option of borrowing the revenue to cover the shortfall, but a borrowing plan must include a method of paying back the revenue.

The council asked county commissioners to start the process for a bond sale to finance the debt, though a specific amount was not set.

A committee of council members, Larry Blanchard from the commissioner’s office and Dante Rondelli, the council’s financial adviser, will meet Thursday to come up with a plan for the $4.2 million in cuts, which could include changes to the county’s insurance plan, staffing and programming cuts.

Councilman Ted Bilski, D-Hobart, said cuts at this point would have a negative impact on the quality of life and in turn property values, something the county cannot afford to have go lower.

“We’re going to have to create a new revenue source,” Bilski said.

The county income tax remedy caps property taxes on all properties, including commercial and industrial, not just homesteads.

He said the distribution does not fit the county.



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