CROWN POINT | The cost of the recent rise in Lake County's homicide rate is still being counted.
Public Defender David Schneider asked the Lake County Council at its Thursday workshop meeting to boost his office's $2.2 million budget to cover the cost of representing more criminal defendants accused of murder.
Schneider said it is going to cost at least an additional $180,000 in new property tax dollars to defend 39 people now charged with murder.
"Last year, we only had 12 to 15 murders," Schneider said.
The Lake County coroner's office reported there were 55 homicides in Lake County during 2013 and 13 so far this year.
In other budget matters, the Lake County sheriff is looking for an additional $58,000 to pay for health care and laboratory services for inmates in the Lake County Jail.
The Lake County Parks and Recreation Department is seeking permission from the County Council to refinance $23.3 million in debt assumed in 2005 for a variety of park district improvements. Parks officials said they hope to save as much as $1 million in payments between now and 2028 when the debt is finally retired.
The council will take up these proposals at its regular meeting Tuesday in addition to requests for zoning approval from two businesses. The first business is a convenience store at 41st Avenue and Hendricks Street in Calumet Township, and the second is a storage and office building just south of 157th Avenue and Colorado Street in Eagle Creek Township for U.S. Aqua Vac. Inc., which performs landscaping and pond maintenance services.
The Lake County Plan Commission has recommended the council deny both petitions because of opposition by neighboring property owners.