Greater accountability over income tax means more work for council

2013-03-26T20:00:00Z 2013-03-27T13:04:05Z Greater accountability over income tax means more work for councilBob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com

VALPARAISO | The Porter County Council's call for greater accountability over the spending of local income tax revenue resulted in a lengthy and detailed review Tuesday night of the $8 million in requests submitted by the county commissioners.

The new approach of requiring the commissioners to explain details about each of the requests resulted in approvals, reductions and denials.

"I'm still a little confused over where all this is going," Councilman Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, said at one point early on in the discussion.

A request by one of the commissioners for $450,000 was reduced to $355,000 after the council was able to identify specific projects to be funded with the money. The three projects to be funded included an ambulance garage in Hebron and funding for Fire Department radios.

Porter County Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, who has argued the commissioners need to have funding available to them for emergency spending, said this portion of the request used to be placed in separate funds for use in each of the three commissioner districts.

"There are always projects people bring to us," he said.

The dispute over the handling of the income tax revenue caused enough of a stir the state Senate voted unanimously last week to designate the county commissioners as the governing body authorized to transfer money from the income tax. The House had taken the same stand with a unanimous vote.

The County Council had asserted state law authorizes it to spend the money without the consent of the three commissioners, even though none of Indiana's 91 other counties operates that way.

The County Council, which maintains final say over how much of the income tax revenue is spent, did reject a request Tuesday for $25,000 to advertise county events.

The council also reduced a request of $19,411 to $15,000 to be used to advertise animals available for adoption at the local shelter.

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