Bill proposes more local funds

Governing units in Jackson County would share nearly $2.6 million in local income tax distributions if a measure being considered by the legislature becomes law.

The special one-time distribution, to be made in May, would allow local governments to provide services, such as local infrastructure or public safety.

The bill passed out of the House by a 98-0 vote Feb. 3 and got a first reading by the Senate’s Appropriations Committee on Feb. 9. It has since been transferred to the Senate’s Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy.

The special one-time distribution would come from the local income tax revenue being held in trust by the state.

The money would have to be deposited in governing units’ rainy day fund. There would be no other restrictions on the use of the funds.

The total distribution statewide is an estimated at $444 million, and Jackson County’s share of that would be $2,595,000. Those funds would be shared between the governing units of the county, Brownstown, Crothersville, Medora and Seymour.

Jackson County’s share would be about $1 million, and that money could be used for improving county roads and helping fund the newly created public defender’s office, county Councilman Brian Thompson said.

“What I see for us is, we’ve been getting into kind of a pinch with general fund monies,” Thompson said.

He said the challenge is repairing roads and adding new services, such as the public defender’s office, without raising taxes.

“We just keep adding government,” Thompson said.

The additional funds also could help the county bridge a gap in funding from a time when the state has been limiting county budget increases to 2.6 percent to 2017 when that limit should be increased by a percentage point or two, he said.

The 2.6 percent limit in growth is tied to the recession of 2008 when fewer people had jobs and paid less in taxes, he said.

A lower unemployment rate means more people are working and paying income taxes, and the state will allow the growth limit to increase starting next year, he said.

Any increase in the growth quotient will make it easier for the council to fund projects and possible wage increases for county employees, Thompson said.

State District 37 Rep. Todd Houston, R-Fishers, is the author of the bill. Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-{span class=”st”}Rensselaer{/span}, is sponsoring it in the Senate.

The House of Representatives voted unanimously in support of a plan co-authored by State Rep. Milo Smith, R-Columbus.

These funds would be acquired from counties with a surplus in their income tax budget. The money is then held in reserve by the state in trust accounts for each county.

Smith said the bill does not raise taxes or create new debt since the funds already exist in trust accounts.

On the Web

For information about House Bill 1110, visit iga.in.gov/legislative/2016/bills/house/1110.

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Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at awoods@tribtown.com or 812-523-7051.