GUEST COMMENTARY: Try these measures before adopting income tax

2013-04-09T00:00:00Z 2014-03-24T20:11:14Z GUEST COMMENTARY: Try these measures before adopting income taxBy Dan Dernulc and Eldon Strong nwitimes.com
April 09, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Over the last several months, there has been a lot of discussion on a Lake County local option income tax. During this time, our constituents, our bosses, have overwhelmingly said we do not want a tax. Some of the reasons they have are:

1. Crown Point and Lake Central schools passed a referendum increasing their property taxes.

2. A new tax has been implemented to help maintain the Little Calumet River levees.

3. The Social Security tax has recently increased by 2 percent.

Along with these taxes, there is talk of a wheel tax and the school referendum in Munster.

Our constituents in this county cannot afford all of these new taxes. We propose an alternative. The following is our plan:

Strategic steps to reduce Lake County government operational and capital expenditures

  1. Immediately reinstitute a county hiring freeze. Begin reducing the number of county employees by attrition. A salary “supplement pay” or salary raises from department heads shall be stopped.
  2. Initiate a cross-training program so personnel from one department can work in another department (i.e., the clerk's office can work in the treasurer's office or assessor's office during busy times in lieu of hiring outside help).
  3. It is recommended that commencing immediately, all Lake County service contracts in excess of $50,000 shall require requests for quotes be issued. All service contracts shall require a minimum of three RFQ responses. The Board of Commissioners shall then award the contract from among the responses received.
  4. A two-year plan shall be instituted in which all non-elected county employees will receive pay grade classifications. New employees shall be classified as new hires, i.e. LC1. Completion of training and job skills will advance the employee to the next level of pay grade, i.e. LC 2 etc. All pay grade classifications receive the same amount of pay. Only longevity will be considered for additional pay. Supervisory/management positions shall be classified as LCM positions and be overtime exempt. Part-time employees shall be classified in a separate category, i.e. LCPT, etc., depending on their pay amount. All employee positions require job descriptions.
  5. Begin a three-year plan to close the northern courthouses by centralizing all county business at one location, the Lake County Government Complex in Crown Point.

Before we add any more taxes, we suggest trying our plan. Yes, there would be differences in how we run our government, but we believe it is worth a try.

Dan Dernulc and Eldon Strong are members of the Lake County Council. The opinions are the writers'.

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