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Lake County Council: Budget woes mean income tax an option

Updated: February 10, 2013 5:56PM



CROWN POINT — The time has come to make draconian cuts to services or find another way to pay for Lake County government, officials say.

A majority of County Council members Tuesday said they are ready to open discussions on the possibility of some form of county income tax to pay for the anticipated $15 to $20 million shortfall in revenues for operating expenses in 2014.

Councilman Jerome Prince, D-Gary, said county staff has done much to arrange a borrowing plan that will get the county through 2013, but if dramatic action is not taken this year the deficit in 2014 will be worse and will continue to grow each year the matter languishes.

“Our choices are slim. Either cut out entire segments of this operation or the other choice is to find another source of revenue,” Prince said.

That revenue most likely would have to be in the form of some kind of income tax.

Prince said officials should begin to open the dialogue in February and discuss all possibilities how the county can balance its budget.

Councilman Ted Bilski, D-Hobart agreed putting the matter up for discussion in February would be a starting point. He said any solution to the county’s financial woes would have to be multi-facetted.

“There is no tax (alone) that can resolve all of our issues,” Bilski said.

Councilwoman Christine Cid, D-East Chicago, said she would prefer to see a breakdown of what type of revenue a tax would create, how it would impact her constituents and what it would mean for the budgets of municipal entities before opening up the discussion.

Cid said many times action is taken on matters up for discussion and February is not the time for action.

Councilman Daniel Dernulc, R-Highland, said he remains opposed to the an income tax because his constituents are opposed to it, but he agrees council members need to begin the discussion to tackle the best way to remedy the county’s budget crisis.



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