The Bartholomew County Council gave its initial approval to an increase to the local income tax rate as a way to balance the county’s budget and to improve public safety. The measure, which would increase the local income tax from 1.25 percent to 1.75 percent, passed by the narrowest of margins on a vote of 4 to 3.

Councilman Mark Gorbett has been championing this, or a similar measure, for the past three years. He says the funding problems extend to his time as sheriff.

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Gorbett added that the council began seriously looking at addressing budget issues in recent years.

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Gorbett says that the community has changed, as has its needs. He also stresses that the council wasn’t considering raising the tax rate as high as it legally could…

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Laura DeDomenic, council president, explains that she originally ran for council because she wanted to find ways to make county government more efficient and make better use of tax dollars. She says that lots of work and study went in to making that a reality. However, she says that times have changed.

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Councilman Matt Miller says he isn’t so sure that a tax increase will have much of an effect on the opioid epidemic.

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The measure would increase the local income tax from 1.25 percent to 1.75 percent. Of that, officials say that .25 percent would be dedicated to public safety, .25 percent to economic development and the rest to the general fund. Bill Lentz and Evelyn Pence joined Miller in voting “no.”

The tax increase needs a second vote to pass. That is scheduled for Oct. 10th.