Lake County commissioners back bus funding law change
By Rich Bird Post-Tribune correspondent June 27, 2012 3:37PM
Updated: July 29, 2012 5:08PM
CROWN POINT — The Lake County Board of Commissioners has signed off on a resolution supporting a change in state law to help fund regional transportation.
The commissioners on Wednesday signed the resolution that, if enacted, would reduce the amount the county and the cities of East Chicago, Gary and Hammond pay toward income tax credits, creating a pool of money that could be used to pay for local buses, according to a release issued by county attorney John Dull.
Under existing law, the state withholds roughly $3.9 million in casino boat admission tax revenue from the county and the same amount divided among the three cities. The state uses the money to provide income tax credits to people with an earned income of less than $18,600.
The “more appropriate criteria,” according to Dull, would have been adjusted gross income. Because pensions and Social Security are not considered income, some people making far more than $18,600 are receiving credits.
The proposed legislation would change the income criteria, and allow the county and the three cities to use the balance of any money not paid toward income tax credits for regional transportation services.
“This should yield a sizable pot of money that could be utilized for regional transportation,” Dull wrote.
The proposed change would affect the county as well as the three cities, but would not affect the rest of the state.
According to Larry Blanchard, the earned income tax credit law, which was enacted about 10 years ago, is specific to Lake County.
The resolution will be ratified at the commissioners’ next meeting on July 5, after which it will be submitted to the Lake County delegation to the General Assembly, along with a request for a sponsor to submit the bill, Dull wrote.