County Council rules against additional tax
Given the chance Tuesday night to raise more than a quarter-million dollars for capital development, the Putnam County Council opted instead not to raise taxes.
Before the council was the possibility of instituting a Cumulative Capital Development Fund outside of the already established county tax levy.
While the possibility of an estimated $269,000 in new funds could have been tempting come budget season in September, the council members present were united in their opposition to a new tax on property owners in the county.
“It really concerns me to start adding tax back to the property tax because it got so high and now it’s going back down,” Councilman Keith Berry said.
Jacque Clements, a contractor from the Association of Indiana Counties who works with the council and Auditor Lorie Hallett on the annual budget, pointed out that the county’s existing cumulative funds — for bridge, the jail and the courthouse — formerly existed outside the levy, but were brought into the levy last year.
Cumulative Capital Development is now the only chance a county has to capture funds outside of its regular levy.
Asked by Councilman Dave Fuhrman how many counties statewide have such a fund, Clements did not have an exact number but said it was “the vast majority.”
It was also pointed out to council members that approving such a funding source does not necessarily mean raising taxes at this time. Instead, it would pave the way for adopting such a tax at budget time.
Under state law, the county is eligible to establish a Cumulative Capital Development Tax at a rate not to exceed $.0167 per $100 of assessed value.
Such funds could be used on major capital purchases and perhaps free up other funds, such as County General.
One complicating factor for Putnam County is the re-establishment of the Cumulative Bridge Fund. To help out the general fund, the county did away with the fund for 2017, but on Monday the County Commissioners voted unanimously to re-establish Cumulative Bridge, a $600,000 hit to County General.
However, comments around the table on Tuesday made it clear that Berry’s fellow councilmen were not in favor of additional taxes on property owners.
Dave Fuhrman made the motion not to establish a Cumulative Capital Development Fund, which was seconded by Larry Parker.
Berry and Jill Bridgewater joined them in their vote for a 4-0 denial. Councilmen Phil Gick and Gene Beck were absent on Tuesday. Darrel Thomas did not vote, as is commonly his practice as Council president.