Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Times Reports House Panels OKs Spending $4 Million from Lake County Tax Fix

From the Northwest Indiana Times:

A House committee agreed Monday the South Shore Line expansion project should receive the $4 million a year expected to be saved by closing a Lake County tax loophole -- even as the underlying legislation veered dangerously off-track.

Following a recommendation by state Rep. Hal Slager, R-Schererville, the House Ways and Means Committee changed Senate Bill 367 to specifically direct the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority spend the money "only to establish or improve public mass transportation systems in Lake County."

The Senate-approved version of the legislation awarded the savings to the RDA but did not say how it must be spent.

RDA officials already had promised to use the funds to help expand the commuter rail line to Dyer.
The $4 million comes from adjusting the Lake County Residential Property Tax Credit to ensure only homeowners with less than $18,000 in total income claim the $300 credit intended to help low-income homeowners with their property taxes.

Last year some 13,400 homeowners whose incomes topped $18,000 received the credit because the current income definition does not include most investment or retirement income.

The tax credit is paid by the state, which deducts the cost of the credit from casino admission tax revenue that otherwise would go to Hammond, East Chicago, Gary and Lake County.