NEW ALBANY —
A number of other big expenses have contributed to the county’s budget woes — $4.5 million has been spent on the three murder trials of David Camm, between hiring special prosecutors, judges and other expenditures. The upcoming trial of accused serial killer William Clyde Gibson III has already cost about $300,000.
The elimination of the inheritance tax in the state takes about $125,000 away from county revenue and property tax caps written into the state constitution have choked back income.
Brad Striegel, At-large councilman, said the council should consider approaching the Horseshoe Foundation to see if any of their expenditures qualify for grants or other money from the entity.
Scott Clark, auditor, said he spoke with Jerry Finn, executive director for the foundation, along with some of its board members. He said he left with the impression that they could not give money to taxpayer-funded entities such as the council.
Though Striegel said Finn may have said that, he’d like to go to the board anyway to see if they’re willing to help.
But Lois Endris, county recorder, gave the council a suggestion they may follow through with at its meeting Thursday — borrow money and sell some county assets after submitting the budget to the DLGF and make up some of the shortfall.
Clark also said it’s possible to raise the county adjusted income tax by .5 percentage points. After the meeting, he said someone with an income of $25,000 would pay an extra $125 a year in taxes.
He said while that would give property owners a .25 percent property tax credit, the county would still realize $2 million in revenue. He said income taxes have not been raised in the county since 2003.
But two council members said they opposed any kind of a tax increase — Wathen and Tom Pickett, 1st District councilman. He said he didn’t think the public nor county employees should pay for any mistakes the council made, which they partially blamed on their former auditor, Darin Coddington, who resigned earlier this year.
“I’m not for layoffs or tax increases,” Pickett said. “I don’t know what the department will decide on in taking any kind of percentage cuts [to their budgets]. We didn’t see this [budget shortfall] coming. We approved things we probably shouldn’t have, but we didn’t know that at the time.”
During the meeting, a member of the crowd said they’d be willing to pay more in taxes if it meant they could keep the county employees in their jobs.
Schellenberger said at next week’s meeting the council will consider passing the budget at $12.3 million. The state isn’t expected to announce the approved budget until February or March, but he said that may give them time to sell off some of their properties and look for money elsewhere.