County council considers using PSAP approach to LIT rates

By Emma Rausch

Wabash County homestead property owners may not see an increase on their taxes after all following the Wabash County Council’s meeting on Monday, Sept. 25.

The council continued its discussion on the LIT rates on Monday, setting aside ideas discussed at its August meeting.

On Aug. 28, Darren Bates, of DataPitStop, proposed that the council should review the county’s circuit breaker program, which provides tax relief credits to homeowners, and possibly take away some of the credits to assist with growing the levy by 4 percent without raising the tax rates.

“What we had originally talked about was reducing the property tax relief,” Auditor Marcie Shepherd told the board Monday. “Currently, our income tax is 2.9 and what makes up that 2.9 is we have allocated 1 to property tax relief, .25 to public safety, .25 economic development and 1.4 to certified shares.

“So what the proposal is to reduce the property tax relief by .5 and move that .5 over to certified shares to increase the certified shares to 1.9.”

However, on Sept. 18, the plan changed after Shepherd and Bates discovered another option, according to Shepherd.

“I believe Marcie and I said there was one option before and that is we didn’t give as much to homeowners and we give more to rentals and business and farmers,” Bates said, “but it only increased the efficiency by 10 to 15 percent of the money that you are pulling in of $6.5 million.

“But that got thrown out once we found out about PSAP, the ability to fund PSAP through income tax.”

PSAP, or Public Safety Access Point, is “basically” used for central dispatch, according to Shepherd.

“So what you could do with that—It’s a part of public safety,” Shepherd said. “So our public safety, if you wanted, you could leave that at a .25 then you could take a .09 and put that in part of public safety. So the .09 is designated just for the county, just for PSAP. Nothing else can be used for anything else than that. You can’t use that to build a central dispatch building. You can’t use it to maintain, like put a new roof or anything like that. It’s just for maintaining of equipment (and) salaries for people.

“I spoke with Darren and we estimated that currently central dispatch’s budget is $562,000 rounded and if we moved a .09, that would be enough to cover central dispatch’s budget. So then we could in reality from county General (Fund) into PSAP, which would free up roughly $600,000 out of county General.”

Since a decision is required to be made by Oct. 31, the council will host a special meeting for public hearing on Oct. 16 at 5 p.m. to finalize their discussion on LIT rate options.

Posted on 2017 Oct 10