CROWN POINT | Lake County Council members said they are prepared to take a final vote Tuesday on borrowing $15.5 million next year to meet anticipated spending on the county jail, its roads and drainage waterways, and other services.
County officials said state-mandated limits on the amount of taxes they can collect from local property owners have forced them into the dilemma of either borrowing, cutting essential services or imposing a local income tax. The council is unwilling to cut or tax at this time.
Council members spoke at a Thursday workshop session about setting up a borrowing committee to review requests by county government officials who want to dip into the borrowed funds. Those requests likely will include capital improvements to county road, bridge and drainage infrastructure as well as expenses linked to U.S. Department of Justice's demand for improvements in the county jail's security and health care for inmates.
The council also will refinance an earlier $5 million loan it took out to make jail improvements.
A recent Indiana Department of Local Government Finance publication reports Lake County government already has outstanding debt obligations exceeding $111 million. James A. Shanahan, an attorney who oversees Lake County's forays into the private bond market, said the private bond market always has been willing to service the county's debt.
Porter County Treasurer Mike Bucko has offered to lend the money from a $173 million reserve that county amassed from the sale of Porter Memorial Hospital.
Lake County Attorney John Dull said once the Lake County Council approves the borrowing, the Board of Commissioners will decide whether to choose Porter County or the private market for the loan source.