EDITORIAL: Replenish rainy day funds for flood control

2013-04-19T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Replenish rainy day funds for flood control nwitimes.com
April 19, 2013 12:00 am  • 

People in the Chicago area, including Northwest Indiana, have seen the wrath of nature this week. Flooded roads. Flooded basements. Commuting nightmares.

The lousy weather has set the stage for a serious conversation about funding for flood control projects.

Even as the assessments for the Little Calumet River levee maintenance are starting to show up on some Lake County property tax bills, causing some residents to grouse about the cost, the inflatable bladders installed along the Northcote and Columbia bridges have held fast, keeping the stormwater in the river where it belongs.

Levees and other flood control measures need to be maintained to retain their strength.

The levy for the levees along the Little Calumet River isn't intended to cover all of Lake County's flood control needs, however. And yet the Lake County Council, trying to cut costs, eliminated funding this year for all but $300,000 worth of drainage projects.

As basements and roads flood, it is appropriate to question the wisdom of the county's refusal to raise funds for these projects.

Lake County Surveyor George Van Til made a pitch recently for $1.9 million for work on eight drainage ditches this year and another $9.8 million for 10 more in future years.

Van Til hopes the money will become available if the county adopts the income tax. Borrowing isn't an option because these are continuing operational costs, not once-and-done capital costs.

The storms this week showed the value of those projects. They are needs, not wants.

The foul weather this week has offered yet more evidence that Lake County needs additional revenue, not less, and that an income tax is the way to fund flood control and other essential government services.

Only the income tax could raise enough money to close the current budget shortfall and fund vital projects like the flood control projects now at risk of remaining on the drawing board.

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