Letter: Make your voice heard before final tax vote

From: Russell Poling Sr.


Many of you may not know this, but the Bartholomew County Council is wanting to raise your income tax from 1.25 percent to 1.75 percent of your gross pay. This increase will bring in an extra $11.6 million, which is shared between the city and the county. If you make $50,000 per year then your contribution to this windfall is about $250 per year.

This is a permanent increase, unless a future council votes to lower the rate. But, that will never happen. Governments rarely return money to the people. They seem to forget that all government revenue begins as a tax on citizens like you and I. In order to pass this increase they are required to have two public hearings and votes.

The first was on Sept. 12 and the second is scheduled for Tuesday. On the first hearing the vote passed 4 to 3. Laura DeDomenic, Chris Ogle, Jorge Morales and Mark Gorbett voted for the increase; Evelyn Pence, Bill Lentz and Matt Miller voted against.

Out of the 90-plus people present, only 16 spoke. Eight were for and eight were against. Not sure why no one else spoke, but their mere presence caused the council president (DeDomenic) to limit comments to two minutes per person.

I attended to speak out against this increase, but it is difficult to lay out an effective objection in only two minutes. More time needs to be allowed.

I am against such a large tax increase because it brings in a great deal of money for the city that frankly the city does not need. Our city government is well funded by the current taxes to include the recent property tax hike that they levied against us. This increase gives the county $4.8 million, but the city nets $6.8 million.

The county states that they are short $1.7 million for 2018. So, this tax increase gives them a surplus of $3.1 million just for 2018. If they have similar budgets and revenues as currently projected then the surplus will continue to grow year after year.

What are they going to do with this extra money? They tell us that public safety needs more money, especially due to the opioid problem. I will concede that our sheriff could use some extra money to hire more deputies and improve conditions at the jail, but will the extra $3.8 million be used just for that? There really isn’t a plan in place for spending this windfall.

I leave it up to my fellow citizens to decide if you want to see your taxes go up. If you are against it then let your council members know, and better yet show up on Tuesday and tell them in person. If you are for the tax increase I say the same to you. Let your voice be heard.

We have a representative form of government. It is up to us to help guide our representatives, otherwise they will vote how they personally feel on the matter.