By Marc Chase in the Northwest Indiana Times:
shouldn't rake others over the coals for committing acts of folly if one isn't
prepared to provide some measure of praise when those criticized end up doing
that something right is tempered by whispers of more shortsighted acts. Even if
the admirable deed never would have occurred had a wasteful act not proceeded
this year, Lake County government voted to borrow $15 million to "bridge
the gap" in its spending problems prior to those same county leaders
voting to adopt a 1.5 percent local income tax on you, the taxpayers.
previously made the point — realizing I was whispering into a strong
headwind — that county leaders should pay back the borrowed $15 million.
that new income tax revenue they're amassing on the backs of working
constituents ought to end the further encumbrance of taxpayers with more debt,
it appeared someone in county government was listening to the calls from
constituents where the borrowing issue is concerned.
County Council seemed committed to paying back $5 million of the borrowed $15
million. Its members said as much at a Sept. 4 budget workshop.
difference between those numbers already has been spent, and the county should
never have gone on the borrowing spree to begin with. The borrowed money was
being earmarked, in part, for operational expenses. This is never a good fiscal
to repay some of that borrowed money to the bank would have been an absolute
step in the right direction.
cue the surprise — that logical, fiscally sound step apparently won't
happen. The council did an about-face on fiscal sanity Wednesday.
after further "balancing" of the budget, it realized the 1.5 percent
income tax it just approved isn't enough to make ends meet.
prioritizing and cutting to make it all work, the council now appears committed
to using $3.3 million of the leftover $5 million loan money to bridge another
spending gap. It so voted in a budget workshop Wednesday.
And I was
so tempted to celebrate this partial loan repayment, so ready to congratulate
the council for doing something right by residents who are regularly used as
are whispers of more borrowing by the county before the first dime of income
tax revenue officially arrives.
workshops last week, the council began setting possible priorities for about
$17 million in new county income tax revenue set to begin incrementally
disappearing from residents' paychecks next month. The money — at least
from a proposal standpoint — is quickly evaporating.
Half of it
appears slated for public safety, much of that money bolstering jail and
corrections staff to deal with a federal mandate for improvements at the county
half appears earmarked for various other purposes, including arguably important
road bridge, drain and other infrastructure improvements.
left for patronage, pet projects and county officials' buddies posing as
that's why we're hearing talk of more borrowing.