Lake County Council still looking to trim $4 million from 2013 budget
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent September 4, 2012 6:32PM
Updated: October 10, 2012 6:38PM
Lake County officials plan to ask other tasking bodies to do their part this budget season to free up some dollars from the county’s frozen levy.
If there is no effort to bring the county’s levy under the tax cap, the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance could impose its own budget reduction on everybody across the board as it did in 1985, according to County Council attorney Ray Szarmach. At that time, everyone’s budget was slashed by 5 percent.
On Tuesday the County Council authorized Szarmach to draw up a nonbinding resolution that would ask every taxing body in Lake County to impose reductions of about 4 percent to their levy before the levies are sent to DLGF for approval.
In a separate measure, officials voted 4-2 against a plan to cut 4 percent from every departments’ budget in 2013. Councilman Rick Niemeyer said an across-the-board cut is not fair to the smaller departments in the county that have already trimmed to the bare bones. The county must cut $4 million from its 2012 budget for that same budget to break even in 2013.
“I’d like first to look at the higher-profile budgets. The small ones will not equal a lot anyhow,” Niemeyer said.
Councilman Ted Bilski questioned whether a nonbinding resolution would even help.
“Whether they do it or not ,we don’t have the power to enforce it,” Bilski said.
He said county officials have in the past tried different mechanisms to encourage other taxing bodies not to claim their maximum levy when they will not receive it, thus tying up tax dollars other taxing bodies like the county coulc use, but none has been successful.
Szarmach said county officials need to prepare for the worst and be ready to trim that $4 million from the budget or the state will impose its will. The last time a similar issue was before state tax officials in 1985 and no units made an effort to cut, everyone’s budgets were returned 5 percent less.
“No one made any cuts, so there was just 5 percent less imposed across the board,” Szarmach said.