SULLIVAN COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Sullivan County residents could soon see a significant change in their income tax rates.
Most people who live paycheck to paycheck can’t afford it.Sullivan County Councilman Jerry Payne
A recent proposal to raise the income tax over 1% passed through the Sullivan County Council with a 4-3 vote.
“Currently we’re at 6/10 of a percent, and the proposal was to raise that to 1.75%, which would be a considerable raise,” said Councilman Jerry Payne.
Years ago, Sullivan County had the lowest tax rate in Indiana at .3%. The current rate is still among one of the lowest in the state, but this proposal is asking to nearly triple that number.
Some income tax rates in the area:
- Sullivan County Income Tax Rate – .6%
- Greene County Income Tax Rate – 1.75%
- Vigo County Income Tax Rate – 2%
- Knox County Income Tax Rate – 2.25%
Councilman Curtis Bedwell, who voted in favor of the proposal, gave a statement to WTWO that said in part: “Raising taxes is a last resort. I encourage people to confirm how much it will affect them personally and not take other peoples’ word for it.”
Bedwell points to projects like a new county jail, comparable retirement plans, and funding for road projects as needs that this increase will go toward.
Sullivan County Sheriff Clark Cottom says that a new jail is important for the county.
“It is a needed thing, it’s not a want, it’s a need, and right now we’re paying out hundreds of thousands of dollars to other counties to house our inmates,” said Cottom.
Payne, who voted against the proposal, says he’s worried about the burden on taxpayers.
“My memory serves me, one percent would be like losing a paycheck a year, so now you’re considering 1.75 percent, these people are gonna be losing an average of two paychecks a year, just in order to pay for this new jail, and most people who live paycheck to paycheck cannot afford that,” said Payne.
Payne adds that he too supports a new jail, but believes a smaller rate increase would be enough to fund it.
“The county, the towns, they all need the money, I truly understand that, but I just think that it’s too much of a burden to add to our county, as we all know we’re a small county, we don’t have a whole lot population wise, it’s just too much, it’s just too much,” said Payne.
There will be a public meeting on August 5 at the Sullivan County Courthouse, where taxpayers can come voice their thoughts on the proposal.
Full statement from Councilman Bedwell:
“Raising taxes is a last resort. I encourage people to confirm how much it will affect them personally and not take peoples’ words for it. Double check the facts and figures for yourself. The tax is currently .6%, which is a multiplier of .006. It’s proposed to increase 1.1% which is a multiplier of .011 for a total of 1.7% which is a multiplier of .017. As we look at the increase we ask, what is necessary and best for the county as a whole? Then it takes all of us to sacrifice a little to make it the best we can.
We don’t raise a tax and then try to figure how to spend the money. It’s just the opposite, we think proactively, plan for the future, see what needs attention, then raise the tax to where it needs to be in order to accomplish what needs accomplished.
Straight across the board, in being responsible, it would be great to be competitive with the workforce so people are drawn to work in Sullivan County.
1) We need to be as proactive as we can right now with planning the jail.
2) We need to get a comparable retirement plan for our employees, Indiana PERF retirement, so our existing employees that qualify can retire if they desire.
3) Our highway department continues to get funds cut by the state. They need funds to have the employees they need, to accomplish good maintenance on our roads, ditches and especially our bridges.
4) Our employees need a 12-15% pay increase.
In summation, our past officials serving on the Council have done a great job in stretching each dollar in order to keep our taxes low. In fact, out of 92 counties, we are one of the lowest in the state. We just can’t do what needs to be done with what we now pay in taxes. Hopefully we can make “Informed Decisions, with Quality Workmanship, On Time, Building for Now and the Future”.Sullivan County Councilman Curtis Bedwell