Declining income tax revenues have the Pulaski County Commissioners seeking some outside financial advice. They voted Tuesday to allow accounting firm Umbaugh and Associates to do a preliminary analysis and offer a proposal for helping the county put together a financial strategy.
Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan Origer has been urging the county’s elected officials to start working on a solution. “Obviously, we don’t want to raise taxes any more than necessary,” he said. “The ideal solution is to increase population and increase assessed valuation in the county, so that rates remain stable or decrease, while revenue still comes up, but that’s a much bigger process. But we certainly need to look at righting the ship.”
The challenge is that Pulaski County already has the highest local income tax rate in the state, but there are fewer and fewer people living in the county to pay it. Commissioner Kenny Becker pointed out that’s also made things difficult for local employers. “We need more people,” he said. “Every place in town’s looking for somebody to work, and nobody can find anybody.”
“Oh, I know,” Origer replied. “I mean, we’ve talked about things like sending buses up to Lake County where the unemployment rate’s a lot higher and if we can find people who are going to consistently hop on that bus every morning and come down to Pulaski County, and put them to work here, if we have to. That doesn’t help on the income tax, but at least it helps on production and the assessed valuation, maybe.”
The commissioners authorized Auditor Laura Wheeler to proceed with getting a quote from Umbaugh. They also asked Origer to help with the process, as well.