Pulaski County Council Considering Options, Following Income Tax Revenue Shortfalls

Pulaski County may be looking to state lawmakers to help make up a shortfall in local income tax revenues. The issue was brought to the attention of the county council last month, after Winamac officials noticed a sudden drop in the town’s share of Local Levy Freeze Income Tax funds. Pulaski County communities are now facing big holes in their 2018 budgets.

County Council President Jay Sullivan said Wednesday there’s no immediate solution. “We can’t do nothing this year, anyway,” he said. “They’re going to have to figure it out. Now next year, then, we’ve got Umbaugh is supposed to be looking at some stuff for us and we can decide what we want to do, but I personally can’t see us increasing income taxes any more.” Sullivan plans to contact State Representative Doug Gutwein, to see if there are any alternatives that could prevent a local tax increase.

Part of the reason for the sudden drop in the “LIT Levy Freeze” revenues is that a fund set up to stabilize that revenue level has been used up. Council member Scott Hinkle wondered why the council wasn’t made aware of the problem earlier. “Well, what was that, five years or something they showed?” he asked. “Why all of the sudden, after five years, ‘Oh, it’s gone.’ Well, why didn’t they tell us three years or two years ago that it’s dwindling?”

But Sullivan said the county knew about the problem and took action to provide towns with an alternate revenue source. “We incorporated a LOIT B income tax four years ago because of this shortfall, and that made up the difference. And boy, the towns were all happy about it because they were getting money and this, that, and the other thing, and they spent it, and now they ain’t got it when they’re supposed to have it. They’re still getting it, but their budgets increased. They do have it. That shortfall was taken care of through the LOIT B tax.”

This week, the Town of Winamac pulled its funding from the town’s swimming pool rebuilding project, as it tries to make up for the shortfall by cutting the town’s Recreation budget.