Lake County Council advises budget restraint for county taxing units
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent September 24, 2012 4:58PM
Updated: October 26, 2012 2:13PM
Lake County Council forwarded the proposed 2013 budgets, levies and tax rates for each of the county’s 61 taxing units to the state and agreed to attach a copy of a letter it will write advising those taxing units not to spend more than their tax rates generate.
County Council members said they wish state law gave them more budget enforcement power, more than the advisory role the council now plays. The vote to send a letter to the taxing units was 5-0 with council members Christine Cid, D-East Chicago and Michael Repay, D-Hammond, absent.
Past attempts to garner cooperation of the county’s many taxing units included a red, yellow and green alert system three years ago and individual meetings with county budget officials last year. The alert system was not well-received and the meetings were ineffective, the council reported.
Council president Jerome Prince, D-Gary, said the letter would let the taxing units to know how the county would like them to cooperate.
“As part of the nonbinding recommendation, we need to submit what we feel are the appropriate action they should take,” Prince said.
Those suggestions could mirror the action the county was forced to take three years ago, said Lemuel Perkins, county budget consultant. Perkins said officials could use the letter to make general recommendations. The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance will also receive the letter.
Councilman Ted Bilski, D-Hobart, said the county had to reduce its budget dramatically to match its levy growth and other taxing bodies should do the same. He would like the letter to provide a target budget number for taxing bodies to reach.
Prince said while the letter likely will have no impact, it is important state and local officials see what the county has to say.
“To do nothing is to suggest silent acquiescence to continued increases,” Prince said.