MARK KIESLING: Enact 911 tax, then retire it

2012-06-10T00:00:00Z MARK KIESLING: Enact 911 tax, then retire it nwitimes.com
June 10, 2012 12:00 am

OMG. Oh my gosh. I am in favor of a tax.

The Lake County Council is prepared (perhaps) to vote Tuesday on whether to enact a county income tax.

And I am inclined, even as a Lake County taxpayer, to support it.

Regular readers of this column (not those who eat bran flakes) know I have long been opposed to Lake joining the state's other 91 counties in enacting such a tax.

But.

The state has mandated that counties go to an enhanced emergency police contact system, which will hereinafter be referred to as E-911.

This is supposed to take effect, so says the state, by the end of 2014. That might sound like a long way away, but as you get older which you will, I hope, it's not.

Which bring us to the tax question.

It's a $13 million undertaking, not something to be taken lightly.

Yet it is not only mandated, but in the long run will save taxpayers in every individual city and town money on what they spend on individual systems and dispatchers.

Will they pass that savings along to you and me? Don't hold your breath.

And will Lake County put the sunset onto the tax once the $13 million has been funded?

Well, let's put it this way. The federal income tax was enacted just prior to World War I (1914) as a means to pay off the outstanding debt from the Civil War, which was fought between 1861 and 1865.

(For you Southerners, I also recognize it as the War Between the States. Thanks)

Do we still pay income taxes? If you do not think so, please call the Internal Revenue Service and let me know how that works out for you.

So let me suggest a reasonable compromise, which is kind of like speaking in Latin to the government.

Enact a county income tax to pay for the E-911 system. We have to have it. We have to pay for it. There is no getting around it, even in Lake County.

But put a sunset clause into it. Once the system is paid for, and it should not be that long, the tax goes away. Really. That is going to be the only way taxpayers will swallow this swill.

If they choose not to do it, the county stands to lose significant state funding, which is going to come out of one pocket while the other holds the tax money.

Robbing Peter to pay Paul? Sure. But that's how government works. Sorry. And I mean that.

Not everyone is on board on this consolidation. It will cost some municipal jobs.  Again, sorry. It's a fact of life these days.

Loan the money. Pay it back. Nix the tax. End of story.

The opinions are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at mark.kiesling@nwi.com or (219) 933-4170.

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