Lake County Council to explore income tax options
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent March 12, 2013 1:48PM
Updated: April 14, 2013 6:29AM
Officials want to discuss options for a Lake County income tax before legislation making its way through the Indiana Legislature locks in the county’s choices.
County Councilman David Hamm, D-Hammond, proposed and will chair the newly established county option tax review committee, which officials created on Tuesday in a 6-0 vote. Councilwoman Eslie Franklin, D-Gary, was absent.
“I feel it’s time. The dialogue needs to be started,” Hamm said. Councilmen Jerome Prince, D-Gary, and Eldon Strong, R-Crown Point, will sit with Hamm on the committee.
Prince said he agrees with Hamm that officials need to make an effort to assimilate the information out there and how it could impact the county.
“There is a lot of information out there. What is missing is a dialogue from this body. We have to do something or we’ll have to go back to borrowing again soon,” Prince said.
Officials are concerned pending Senate Bill 585 if approved would limit what the county could do in the way of income tax.
The bill was amended to include language that will cap all income taxes the county can impose at a combined 1 percent and will shift control of the county option income tax component away from property tax relief to the council’s control.
Prince said while SB 585 may work for the county, officials need to take a close look and make sure.
Council president Ted Bilski, D-Hobart, said once the bill passes it means the county would be limited to a combined 1 percent of the possible taxes out there including those for economic development and public safety. If officials decide the county needs a combination of income taxes exceeding 1 percent the option will no longer exist.
“I believe if 585 passes everything else comes off the table,” Bilski said.