CROWN POINT | The Lake County Council is getting out of the deficit-spending business next year, but not quick enough for its two Republican members.
The council passed a balanced 2014 budget Monday by a 4-2 margin today with council members Dan Dernulc, R-Highland, and Eldon Strong, R-Crown Point, casting no votes because the council is using more than $3.3 million in unspent money from a recent $15 million loan needed to keep this year's budget in the black.
Strong said the council should have used that remainder to pay down existing debt and instead balanced the budget by finding at least $4 million in cuts for next year.
Instead, the majority Democrats are banking on additional revenues in 2015 when the full impact of the local income tax is known. Councilwoman Christine Cid, D-East Chicago, was absent.
The council passed the 1.5 percent income tax last spring to replace lost property taxes. County government will receive between $15 million and $17 million next year.
Council President Ted Bilski, D-Hobart, said the income tax saved the county from having to cut essential services.
The budget will require collecting $159 million in property taxes in addition to the new 1.5 percent county income tax.