County to investigate income tax for public safety

Bartholomew County COuncil will investigate an increase in local income taxes to help fund public safety operations, but few council members are supportive of the idea.

The County Council will be considering an increase of about one quarter of one percent on residents’ income taxes, to raise about $5 million for local governments.

County Auditor Barb Hackman explains that the tax rate would increase from 1.25 percent to 1.5 percent.

Hackman said the funds could only be used for public safety, but that is broadly defined. And any property tax money now going to fund public safety, could be freed up for other purposes by using the income tax.

The way the law is structured, the largest chunk, or about $2.8 million would go to the city of Columbus, while $2 million would go to the county and the rest of the $5 million would be distributed to small town governments in the county. But County Council would also want to take cues from Clark County, which enacted the same tax, but used inter-local agreements to take back about a quarter of the city and town portions to fund operations of the emergency operations center.

The most vocal proponent of the public safety tax has been Councilman Mark Gorbett, who was previously Bartholomew County Sheriff.