Some facts gathered at the Monday, April 29th meeting chaired by current Lake County Commissioner Gerry Scheub and past Lake County Council President Larry Blanchard. Understand I am not a stenographer and these notes were taken at the meeting, every attempt is being made to accurately convey information presented.
Commissioner Scheub stated that things “started to go haywire (on the fiscal solvency of the county budget) in 2001” when the state mandated a special re-assessment of all Lake County. At this time the state reduced taxes for major industry in the area such as BP of between 40-60%. The proposed optional tax will not be applied to any industry; it will strictly fall on the taxpayers. A family with an adjusted income of $60,000 will see an increased tax liability of $900.00/year.
The 2013 budget was approved at $143 million (an increase of $1 million)
Unfunded mandates from the state of Indiana on Lake County:
New Jail: $33 million for the facility plus additional staff which adds an additional couple of million.
New Juvenile Jail Facility: $23 million for facility plus cost of additional staff
New Courts: Millions
Lake County Supplement School Tax: $4 million/year. (Lake County is the only county forced to pay this.)
Mental Health Facilities: $2.2 million
911 consolidation: Initial cost unknown, estimated cost to operate $8 million/year
Where some of the casino money goes:
The state has capped the amount of money Lake County can receive at $17.4 million
RDA: $3.5 million
Low Income Tax Credit: $4.8 million
25% of the total money is then split between 16 different communities.
Highways: $600,000- $750,000
Lawsuits/ mandates to the county:
Class action suit from the previous sheriff: $8 million
Department of Justice (DOJ): Last 3 years $6.8 million to improve jail
DOJ mandate: Operational changes, which include psych evaluations for all prisoners- $6, 700,000
DOJ mandate: Hire 35 staff for jails, cost $10 million/year in wages/benefits
Both Gary and Hammond have closed their city jails so an additional burden now rests with the county since they must house these prisoners. In addition, the Hammond Board of Health closed and individuals now utilize county resources.
Continually in the local paper, The Times, polls show that 74% of residents are against a county income tax.
During the meeting a question was taken from the floor regarding taxing and Social Security. While it seems a bit fuzzy, all indications are that any income you report to the state as adjusted gross income will be taxed. From individuals I know, that would mean the percentage of SS benefits which are currently taxed by the state will also be taxed under this proposal. Any person who receives or will receive a penion in liue of social security will definitely be taxed on the penion as income.
Lake County Commissioner Gerry Scheub stated he will vote NO on this proposed tax.