Government looks to pay for more items out of its Cumulative Capital
Development fund by adjusting the tax rate up to .0233 cents per $100 of
assessed valuation as approved 3-0 by the County Board of Commissioners on
The vote took place
after a public hearing where a few citizens showed up asking questions on
the topic of 2015 County Budgets.
President John Evans, R-North, said the hearing was not for the budgets as
those will be addressed during a public hearing in the fall by the County
As some would view
this as a direct tax increase, Evans felt it necessary to explain what
effect the measure would have on property taxpayers and why he and fellow
Commissioners Nancy Adams, R-Center, and Laura Shurr Blaney, D-South, chose
to seek the new rate establishment.
In short, Evans
said the Commissioners are assisting the County Council to combat the effect
of state imposed property tax caps on the General Fund by “taking off some
of the pressure.” A few items in the General Fund can be transferred to the
“All we are doing
is moving approximately $825,000 in annual power, water and sewage expense
from the General Fund to the more appropriate CCD fund. This will free up
that $825,000 in the General Fund to help the County Council to manage the
budget shortfall,” he said.
The action will
raise the CCD rate by four-tenths of a cent from .0189, Evans said. A
homestead valued at $150,000 with standard deductions will see its taxes
rise at a rate of just 25 cents a month, or $3 per year.
CCD money is by
spent the Commissioners on building maintenance, roads and right-of-ways,
information technology, and equipment, as well as police vehicles.
According to Evans,
the impact on the County’s over tax rate should be unnoticeable as the
building corporation bond for the Juvenile Center will be paid off and
offset the increase to the CCD fund. Taxpayers may very well see a decrease
in their bills next year because the debt payment rate will be eliminated
and higher property values also lower the rate, he said.
"The way this is
timed, there are essentially no negative impacts on property taxpayers,”
rate was suggested as a way to counteract effects of the tax caps on the
County budgets in a report by Umbaugh and Associates, financial consultants.
principal from Umbaugh, who was asked by the Commissioners to attend the
hearing, said that if the rate is not established, the budgeting process set
by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance drives it down. This
will bring the levy back up to where it was four years ago in Porter County,
“You really need to
do what you can with each of your balances moving forward,” Clifford said.
In order for the
rate to take effect on taxes next year, counties need to adopt resolutions
by Aug. 1 to notify the DLGF.
The DLGF says that
remonstrations by taxpayers can be made to the County Auditor 30 days after
notice of adoption.
A leaky situation
Meanwhile, due to
“unforeseen events” -- or an especially wet June -- the Commissioners
declared at state of emergency for the County’s Juvenile Service Center to
expedite repair of the entire roof.
Director Alison Cox
said for the last two weeks the center has had the recurring problem of
water leaking in and disturbing the fire alarm sensors. The alarm has gone
off, forcing evacuations outside, once during a thunderstorm, Cox said.
putting kids and staff in jeopardy,” said Cox.
What is also
critical, Cox said, is that if the fire alarm systems gets wrecked by the
leakage, the Center would be at risk of failing a safety inspection which
could lead to a forced shutdown of the facility.
architectural engineer Stephen Kromkowski said work is already being done on
the front of the building in a project approved by the Commissioners, under
a contract with E.C. Babilla Roofing of Gary. Kromkowski said $130,000 could
be added to that contract to finish the roof, replacing the “brittle”
concrete tiles with a synthetic slate. There would be a built-in savings of
about $6,800 in shipping the material.
gave their approval on the condition that they will first need to check with
attorney Betty Knight about whether a change order with the current contract
is permissible, or if they would need to seek qualifications for the work.
The $130,000 would
be covered by $85,000 of funds contributed by the Juvenile Services Center
Building Corporation, while the remaining $55,000 will be covered using CCD
On a related note,
Cox said the center is ready to receive $92,000 from an alternative
initiative program continuation grant. The Commissioners gave approval
needed for the grant, which will help with education for the juveniles
housed and training for staff.