CROWN POINT | Lake County commissioners will be in a position to veto a local income tax next week if the County Council approves one.
Commissioner Gerry Scheub, D-Crown Point, called Wednesday for a special commissioners' meeting at 8:30 a.m. May 10 to deal with any tax ordinances to come out of next week's special County Council meeting.
Last month the council tentatively approved, by a 4-3 margin, a 1.5 percent tax on the personal incomes of all county residents and out-of-state residents working in the county.
If the council approves the tax on second reading at its 4:30 p.m. Monday special meeting, commissioners have the choice of adopting or vetoing it.
Although Commissioner Roosevelt Allen, D-Gary, supports an income tax as an unpleasant necessity, Scheub and Commissioner Mike Repay, D-Hammond, have promised to veto it.
That would kill the tax package — unless five council members vote to override. For that to happen, one of the three council members who voted against the tax would have to switch his or her vote.
Commissioners also told Lake County Sheriff John Buncich to go back to the drawing board in his request for 16 new police cars to ensure more car manufacturers can compete for that business.
Lake County Attorney John Dull told the sheriff to eliminate any requirement for police cars to have four-wheel drive.
"Only Fords have that feature. It's a closed specification that way," Dull said.
Buncich said his department has tested the Ford Taurus and likes it. He said four-wheel drive is critical for officer safety when driving in winter weather.
Commissioner Mike Repay said he is investigating the size of the sheriff's fleet, which he estimates at more than 200, and who has authority to drive the cars while off duty.
Commissioners have periodically cracked down on the use of county government-owned vehicles because of the high cost of fuel, car repairs and liability in the case of vehicle accidents.
Buncich said his fleet is no larger than 160 after having auctioned off a number of older, high-mileage vehicles.
Commissioners expect to return their public meetings to their usual venue in the Lake County Government Complex next month, following the removal of asbestos from that area of the building.
However, the escalators that previously moved people to the commissioners' third-floor courtroom, won't be replaced with elevators and a public staircase until mid-August.