MARK KIESLING: Fences may make good neighbors but loans don't

2012-10-19T00:00:00Z 2012-12-20T21:25:33Z MARK KIESLING: Fences may make good neighbors but loans don't nwitimes.com
October 19, 2012 12:00 am

Let's say for the sake of argument that I make $100,000 a year at my job.

I see my boss coming out to argue — it's just a hypothetical number, sir.

But each year, say, somehow I manage to spend $125,000. In a short time, I'm in the hole for as much as I make annually.

It's my fault, too. I bought stuff I didn't need, gave money to people and generally lived the champagne life on the beer budget, albeit rather expensive beer.

So I go to apply for a loan to cover my own grievous fault. Who's going to give it to me? Maybe Porter County!

After all, officials like Porter County Treasurer Mike Bucko has expressed a chary interest in loaning cash-strapped Lake County as much as $15.5 million to tide them over until the next crisis.

At first glance, it looks like could be a double-win situation.

Porter County has a boatload of money in the bank from the sale of Porter Memorial Hospital several years back to a private health care firm.

Lake County has been bleeding money for years, as it continued its profligate spending ways even after the economy tanked and business doors were padlocked.

It has relied heavily on money from its four casinos to keep from going under, but even that goose is sore from laying too many golden eggs.

So Porter County could lend Lake County the money and make a greater rate of return than what they get now from banks or other safe investments.

And Lake could theoretically offer a better interest rate to Porter, while Lake County itself can get a lower rate of interest than from conventional lenders.

There is, though, the unthinkable option of Lake County living within its means. If you don't have it, don't spend it. If it's something necessary for the welfare of the citizens, bite the bullet and raise taxes, even possibly implementing a county income tax.

But before we talk new taxes, let's go back to that living within our means thing again. Lake County officials are mandated to safeguard the welfare of the citizens.

Sometimes this means unpleasant things like higher or new taxes as a last resort.

What it does not mean is to continue to dig that hole, hoping Porter County will be there with its golden shovel to fill it in.

If people know why they are being taxed and believe they are being taxed fairly, most will not mind.

Robert Frost aside, fences often do make good neighbors. But loans? Not so much.

The opinions are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at mark.kiesling@nwi.com or (219) 933-4130. 

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