Residents gather to learn about proposed Lake County income tax

2013-05-04T18:15:00Z 2013-05-04T23:08:09Z Residents gather to learn about proposed Lake County income taxVanessa Renderman, (219) 933-3244

HIGHLAND | The three Lake County Council members who voted against a proposed county income tax met with residents Saturday to discuss the tax and answer questions about its impact.

About 75 people attended the forum at the Lincoln Center, two days before the council is scheduled to take up the tax on second reading.

Councilwoman Christine Cid, D-East Chicago, hosted the event. She was joined by Councilmen Dan Dernulc, R-Highland, and Eldon Strong, R-Crown Point, and Dante Rondelli, finance director for the County Council.

The proposed 1.5 percent tax would apply to personal incomes of all Lake County residents. Residents would start seeing the money deducted from their paychecks starting Oct. 1, Cid said.

The council voted 4-3 in favor of the tax on first reading, during an April 9 vote.

Voting in favor were council members David Hamm, D-Hammond; Ted Bilski, D-Hobart; Jerome Prince, D-Gary; and Elsie Franklin, D-Gary. 

If the tax is approved Monday, it will go before the Lake County Board of Commissioners at 8:30 a.m. Friday. Two of the three commissioners have promised to veto it.

To override the expected veto, at least five County Council members would have to vote for the tax.

Cid initially voted against the tax, because she did not have enough information about it. When a resident asked Saturday how she plans to vote on its second reading Monday, Cid said it would be unfair to say and she still had more thinking to do.

"If I had to vote today, I'd be voting no," she said.

She gave examples of the type of income subject to the tax, such as pensions and annuities, wages, interest, capital gains, unemployment compensation and business income.

Income not subjected include Social Security, combat zone pay and railroad retirement income issued by the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board, tiers I and II.

Members of the audience spoke against the tax. Some held yellow signs reading, "T.E.A. Taxed Enough Already."

They called for the council to find places to cut, rather than imposing a tax.

Schererville resident Len Reynolds said he has been laid off and had to deal with living on less money.

"I cut my expenses," he said.

The county should do the same, Reynolds said.

East Chicago City Council President Gilda Orange, D-6th, said her city needs more money but the tax is unfair. It would hurt residents who already are struggling financially.

"We're being punished for owning a home, and we're being punished for working," she said of the tax.

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