The Porter County Council on Thursday got a clearer picture of what it’s up against in this budget season Ð finding a way to balance a $46 million estimated general fund with an incoming revenue source of roughly $38 million.
Council members determined the solution likely lies in drawing from other sources of revenue than the general fund property tax levy, such as the county economic development income tax (CEDIT) and possibly the interest generated from the proceeds of the sale of Porter Hospital.
During a joint discussion with all three County Commissioners to tackle the issues before going into budget second readings next week, Council member Dan Whitten, D-At Large, said that the funding challenges the county is dealing with need to be looked at not only for what 2014 will bring, but what it will mean for 2015 and 2016 as well.
“It’s shortsighted if we don’t talk a multi-year outlook on these things,” said Whitten.
The “things” Whitten speaks of involve increased staffing for the county jail, adequately funding the self-insured county employee health plan, balancing E-911, and addressing drainage issues around the county.
As the property tax levy for the general fund is predicted to continue to decline, Whitten said he thinks the Council will need to ask the Commissioners for use of CEDIT funds to keep operations going in 2014.
The Commissioners at their Sept. 3 meeting said they will offer the Council $2 million from CEDIT to go toward jail medical services and E-911 budgets, but Whitten said the Council may have to ask for more than that.
“I think we are going to need it all to operate county government,” Whitten said.
According to the Council’s budget and financial specialist Vicki Urbanik, the County will receive $320,288 more in CEDIT next year than in 2013.
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