Lake will get income tax in fall; last county in state to do so
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent May 10, 2013 9:38AM
Lake County Commissioner Gerry Scheub was unsuccessful in appealing a court order to recuse himself from drainage board proceedings involving the proposed Singleton Quarry. | Post-Tribune File Photo
Updated: June 13, 2013 6:37PM
CROWN POINT — Approval of the 1.5 percent Lake County income tax by the County Council earlier this week stands after Lake Commissioners failed to veto tax in a special meeting Friday morning.
One by one, motions made by Commissioner Gerry Scheub, D-Crown Point, to veto the various components of the tax died on the floor for a lack of second. The motions were called without public discussion.
Scheub made the motions after reaffirming his position the tax violates the Indiana constitution.
“This is not a uniform and equal tax. It is not the same for everyone,” Scheub said.
Commissioner Michael Repay, D-Hammond, who said he would vote against the tax during his campaign, took all the heat from a handful of residents who showed up to protest. Neither Repay nor Commission President Roosevelt Allen Jr. seconded Scheub’s motions for veto allowing them to die on the floor.
Audience members shouted at Repay, calling him a (Hammond Mayor Tom) “McDermott puppet” and telling him to “Enjoy your time in office, you won’t be re-elected” among other comments.
Repay said he had thought long and hard about the decision before Friday’s meeting and has long maintained the decision to impose a tax is one that should be made by a County Council majority, whether it be a four- or five-vote majority, not the commissioners.
“I feel like I was elected for more than one issue,” Repay said of his decision not to second the vote. The tax, he said, is needed.
“It could be a lot worse,” Repay said. State officials may have removed the income tax component from the Gary bill awaiting Gov. Mike Pence’s signature but that does not mean state legislators would not try again to impose an income tax on the county if local officials did not act. State versions of the tax are not friendly to the county, he said.
Repay and his fellow officials say drastic cuts still need to be made.
“I think we still need radical cuts. I hope the County Council will continue on a path of fiscal discipline.
County Council vice chairman Jerome Prince, D-Gary, said he is relieved the tax was not vetoed. He said the county has made significant cuts and continues to do so and is the only county entity to reduce its maximum levy, however due to property tax caps and the shift in Indianapolis away from property tax to pay for government, a new revenue source was needed.
“Just because the tax passed, it certainly doesn’t mean the Lake County Council will stop looking for ways to cut,” Prince said.
The 1.5 percent income tax will become effective Oct. 1. Residents will pay the tax for the first time when filing their 2013 state income taxes. The amount owed will be prorated for October, November and December since the tax will not be in effect a full year.