This column will not help my popularity.
That’s because I am calling for an increase in taxes in Lake County.
Considering the Lake County Council last week adopted a balanced $107 million budget, it might seem folly to suggest taxpayers fork over more money to support government in a county noted for corruption and politics.
Well, I guess I have to agree with that view, but only to a point.
You see, the balanced budget talk might only be so much thin air. Already, the council is indicating it will have to borrow as much as $15 million to cover expenses beyond the budget. And that will not fully cover programs and projects needing to be addressed by the county – consolidation of 911 services, regional transportation and a crumbling infrastructure. The list goes on and on.
Most of the county’s budget will go to pay for the courts and public safety. While some cutback at the sheriff’s department might occur, there seems little hope, based on our crime rate, the courts or jail will suddenly see a decrease in use.
The dilemma the council seems to be wrestling with is how to pay for more without an increase in taxes.
Well, Lake County for years has held out on adopting a local option income tax. It has done so even though 91 of Indiana’s 92 counties have adopted the tax as a way to increase revenues without adding to the property tax burden.
The County Council’s refusal to adopt the tax led the legislature to cap property taxes in Lake County, impacting not only the county but every municipality within the county’s boundaries.
To me it proves again that Lake County government leaders are more interested in doing the politically palatable thing than following the principles of good government.
They are failing to meet many urgent needs that are the legitimate responsibility of government. They are fighting about 911 consolidation. They are letting regional transportation — important to economic development and jobs — die. They are failing to protect individual communities. The failures go on and on.
Perhaps someone should start a move to impeach the bunch. Get them out of office.
We need county leaders who have backbone. Leaders with vision. Leaders willing to take the heat by putting principle over politics.
As difficult as it is to say, we need a County Council willing to adopt an option income tax.
OK. There. I have said the damnable words.
William Nangle is executive editor of The Times. He can be reached at The Times, 601 45th St., Munster, IN 46321 or at email@example.com.