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Lake County to look at three potential income taxes

Updated: April 3, 2013 9:48PM



CROWN POINT — The Lake County Council will begin discussing a combination of county income taxes that will generate a revenue source to help fill its budget gap and increase funding for public safety county wide.

Council President Ted Bilski, D-Hobart, said the council plans to introduce three ordinances Tuesday that will create a 1 percent local option income tax, a .25 percent public safety income tax and a .25 percent economic development income tax.

The details of those ordinances will be discussed at Thursday’s work session. While the ordinances will be formally introduced Tuesday, no final action will be taken until officials have the opportunity to conduct a series of public meetings to further the discussion.

“We will have public meetings on this,” Bilski said.

Wednesday the Indiana House of Representatives pulled the requirement from Senate Bill 585 that would have created a 1 percent income tax for Lake County. That tax would have been capped at 1 percent, but would have allowed the county to distribute the funds for more than solely property tax relief.

Council members expressed concerned the 1 percent cap on the tax in Senate Bill 585 would not have been enough. Since the Senate and House versions are different, the bill will go to conference committee. Anything approved in either version could be put back in at that time.

Bilski said the 1 percent income tax the council will consider will be mandated for property tax relief to homesteaders but it does not generate any new revenue. The .25 percent public safety tax and the .25 percent economic development tax would be new revenue. The economic development income tax could be used for a wide variety of things including the consolidated E-911 center and replacing the storm water and bridge repair levies reduced by the county to balance the 2013 budget.

“No one goes to bed at night wanting to wake up and pass a tax,” Bilski said. Any tax passed would have to be part of a plan that would also include additional budget cuts.

“You can’t tax your way out of this. There will still have to be cuts. There will still have to be a lot of things changing in government. This helps us meet our goals in balancing out the county budget,” Bilski said

Councilman Dan Dernulc, R-Highland, said he and fellow Councilman Eldon Strong, R-Crown Point, remain opposed to the income tax.

He said there are still cuts and consolidations that can be made and the council needs to consider other alternatives.

“Eldon and I feel strongly at this time we don’t need an income tax. (Thursday) we will present a plan we feel will be a good start instead of having an income tax. I respectfully disagree with my friends on the other side. We need to look at alternatives,” Dernulc said.



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