State’s Gary bill adds language for Lake County income tax
By Matt Mikus firstname.lastname@example.org February 19, 2013 3:10PM
Updated: February 19, 2013 9:31PM
INDIANAPOLIS — State Sen. Ed Charbonneau added an amendment to his Gary economic development bill Tuesday that allows Lake County to change the way it could spend revenue from a 1 percent income tax.
Instead of all money spent on property tax relief as the law is written now, the amendment would let Lake County officials use three-fourths of the revenue for county needs and the remaining one-fourth for economic development. If Lake County adopts the income tax, it would unfreeze county and municipal levies that have been frozen since 2006. Lake County is the only county in the state that hasn’t adopted an income tax. The state froze its levies at 2007 amounts as a result.
Charbonneau’s bill unanimously passed the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee and moves on to the full chamber.
“This would reverse the levy freeze,” he said, “but the county would have to pass it. And it’s frozen at that 1 percent, they can’t come back later on and increase it. If they wanted to they would have to come back to the legislature.”
Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, said that he hopes the one-fourth percent for economic development will help fund a commuter rail expansion within the county.
The bill also calls for feasibility studies for a port and a trauma and medical education center in Gary.
A requirement for members of the board of directors for the Gary/Chicago International Airport to have experience in either aviation, business or economic development is also in the bill. The governor can veto an appointment if the nominated member doesn’t meet the requirements, but four members must be appointed by the mayor of Gary, one by Lake County, one by Porter County and one by the governor.