INDIANAPOLIS | If Lake County leaders want a local income tax rate higher than the 1 percent maximum under consideration by the Indiana General Assembly, they should enact one.
That's the message from state Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, who said Thursday that he will not allow Senate Bill 585 be changed to set a higher county income tax rate. But he noted his proposal, if signed into law, won't take effect until July 1, giving the Lake County Council plenty of time to set whatever rate it wants without legislative prodding.
"They can do that right now," Charbonneau said.
County officials have spoken privately of imposing a tax rate of up to 1.5 percent of an individual's income to generate enough money to fund increasing county jail operating costs and pay for consolidation of the county's E-911 emergency communications network.
Charbonneau's legislation sets a maximum 1 percent income tax rate and requires that counties use at least a quarter of the money raised for economic development purposes, such as a South Shore Line extension.
Current Indiana law directs most revenue from a county income tax toward reducing property taxes.
Under Charbonneau's plan, the 1 percent rate could never be increased, decreased or eliminated.
The House Ways and Means Committee is set to review the proposal Wednesday. It passed the Senate 50-0.
Region representatives have told The Times they are considering seeking changes that would allow the County Council to set an income tax rate of up to 3 percent.