GUEST COMMENTARY: Why my generation should oppose a Lake income tax

2013-04-28T00:00:00Z GUEST COMMENTARY: Why my generation should oppose a Lake income taxBy Michael Neal nwitimes.com
April 28, 2013 12:00 am  • 

While the proposed local option income tax for Lake County would affect all working residents, it's young people who should be the most upset over this issue.

Year after year, we have seen the overall debt increase for Lake County taxpayers. While it is true certain cuts have been made since the levy freeze, it is quite obvious there has not yet been enough effort to get our spending under control at the county level.

Local government budgets and salaries continue to be bloated with no end in sight.

This year, instead of dealing with the looming deficit issue, our county decided to borrow $15 million in order to close the deficit gap. This only adds to the debt.

My generation of Lake County residents will be the ones who will increasingly shoulder the massive debts being incurred by our county government. As if it were not enough with the looming national debt, now we must service the debt of our county as well.

Adding a 1.5 percent income tax on top of our 1 percent property tax and the many additional payments we are already making to service our debt is not the precedent we want to set for the future, nor is it the proper course of action to take to fill our deficit gap.

Our goal should not be to fill the gap; it should be to eliminate the gap.

Mismanagement of county government is what has led us to this point — and while there is “cleanup” in progress, there is still much to do.

If we continue down the path we are headed, with the mentality of “tax more to fill gaps,” we will begin not only to drive away business, but also drive away young people and young families from wanting to move into Lake County. We will drive away young people who grew up here as well.

Simply put, we need to streamline government and maximize efficiency by downsizing unnecessary programs, staff and spending. It is the only way to save our county and to increase economic and population growth.

Several alternative ideas have been floated by residents, legislators, and some of our county councilmen. Those ideas include a hiring freeze of county employees, reduction of county employees through attrition, closing of unnecessary and underutilized county government buildings, pay grade classifications for county employees, service contract oversight, cross-training programs and so much more.

Every county government department should also have their budgets, operating procedures and expenditures reviewed and audited by an independent business entity to find and weed out unnecessary spending practices and expenditures — finding additional cost savings for the county.

The answer to our problems in county government isn't tax increases, it's spending reduction.

Michael Neal is chairman of the Lake County Young Republicans and a member of the Lake County Republican Party Executive Committee. The opinions are the writer's.

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