From the Northwest Indiana Times:
budgeting process continues in Lake County, and the Lake County Council is in a
unique position this year to go beyond what is expected and pass a budget that
includes no further borrowing.
Council members have even expressed an urge -- though fleeting -- to repay a
small portion of the $15 million borrowed late last year, reportedly to bridge
revenue shortfalls. That should be the new thinking of all council members as
we move forward in the new era of a local option income tax.
tax revenues will soon be providing the needed boost for funding some federally
mandated programs and needed infrastructure improvements. Unfortunately, the
council is on a course to spend the rest of the borrowed money as well.
before the council spends all of the income tax revenue and borrowed funds and
contemplates more borrowing?
It looks as
though the county is coming in about $3.5 million short – at least for now – in
balancing its budget. Whatever the final “shortfall” ends up being, the county
needs to further tighten its belt rather than borrowing to make up the
difference. It's what many region families have been doing throughout the great
recession and economic recovery.
also needs to work out the numbers so some of the previously unspent borrowed
money can go back to the bank and stop generating interest for future
generations of taxpayers.
workers – some of whom continue to struggle to keep their own fiscal houses in
order – expect the same of their elected county politicians. They don't
expect county department heads to line up for their take of income tax revenue
for government employee raises and pension boosts for 2014.
taxpayers were incensed with the adoption of the local option income tax. We
backed the tax because essential government services faced catastrophe without
it. We backed it because it promised property tax relief and because Lake
County was the only county in the state not to have adopted such a tax.
our elected leaders have this important funding tool at their disposal, they
need to prove they can handle it responsibly and frugally manage the money they
have. The mantra going forward should be no more borrowing.