Council vote on LOIT  expected tonight

Monday, October 15, 2007

When the Putnam County Council convenes at 6:30 p.m. tonight in the courthouse annex, the last item on the agenda will likely be the first thing on most people's mind.

The council is expected to vote on the Local Option Income Tax, a funding mechanism presented by state officials as a way to reduce some property taxes while creating funding for public safety.

LOIT has its supporters and its opponents, and many from both sides presented their opinions to the county council at its September meeting.

As the council discussed it in August, the local option income tax would amount to $1.55 for every $100 of adjusted gross income earned by county residents.

The tax has three parts -- Option A freezes the tax levies, and would allow Putnam County to assess a .3 percent income tax on residents to make up the difference for future increases in taxes. That rate would drop to a little more than .1 percent after two years, allowing a build-up of funds in case of a shortfall in the future.

Option B is dollar-for-dollar property tax relief with a 1 percent cap. That option can be applied in one of three ways -- to homesteads only, to homesteads and rental property, or to property tax replacement credit, which includes commercial and agricultural interests.

Option C combines Options A and B, but also sets a .25 percent income tax to use on the broadly defined area of "public safety."

Adding that new tax to the income taxes already collected by the county -- the $1 County Adjusted Gross Income Tax and the 50-cent County Economic Development Income Tax -- Putnam County income earners would pay $3.05 for every $100 of adjusted gross income.

On the eve of the council's anticipated vote, the Putnam County Commissioners were also given some information about how other Hoosier counties are handling LOIT.

On Monday, Bill Dory of the Putnam County/Greencastle Economic ­Develop­ment Commission said he has been contacting other counties to see what action they are taking.

Of 14 counties who responded to his calls, Dory said that 10 are considering adopting some form of the tax. Parke County passed the tax in September at a rate of $1.10 per $100 of adjusted gross income per resident. Morgan County passed a $1.45 rate. Montgomery County passed a 10-cent rate, but is considering raising that amount to $1 per $100 of income. Marion County has passed a 65-cent rate. Jasper County passed a $1.55 tax. Brown County approved a 95-cent rate, and Benton County has approved a $1 tax.

Those new taxes will be added to existing income taxes in those counties.

Boone and Hendricks counties are still considering adoption of LOIT.

Clay, Owen and Vigo counties are not considering LOIT.

Tuesday's county council meeting is open to the public. The courthouse annex is located in the former Jones School at 209 W. Liberty St., Greencastle.

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