By: Chris Morris
News and Tribune
NEW ALBANY - The Floyd County Council moved one step closer to creating a new jail tax Tuesday night.
By a 5-2 vote, an ordinance to create a .002 jail tax rate passed on first reading. The final vote will take place Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Pine View Government Center since the vote did not pass by unanimous consent on first reading.
The new tax will generate around $4.5 million a year to be used on jail expenses including construction costs associated with the $15 million renovation plan that was recently approved. For residents making $50,000 a year, the new jail payroll tax will amount to around $100 a year, according to Auditor Scott Clark. The tax would kick in Oct. 1, 2018.
Lana Aebersold, Dale Bagshaw, Cam Wright, Leslie Knable and Denise Konkle voted in favor of the jail tax in the first reading, while Brad Striegel and Tom Pickett voted against. Only a majority vote of the council is needed Wednesday night for the tax to be approved.
"I've been struggling with this," Bagshaw said. "But I looked at this [needs] through the prism of public safety and infrastructure. This meets both in my opinion."
While no one wants to see a tax increase, Konkle said residents will be getting "a bang for their buck," with this ordinance. She said for just a minimal amount the jail will be renovated and be able to hold 100 more inmates, which will keep the county in compliance. She said it is also needed to shore up the budget.
"It may upset some people but the levy has not increased significantly enough to keep up with the growth in the community," Konkle said. "Our levy has stayed flat. In order for the government to sustain community needs we have to do something. With the property tax caps we have to generate money from other places."
Konkle also said this will keep the council from having to dip into hospital sale proceeds to balance the budget each year.
The council had four ordinances to consider, two that would have reduced the County Adjusted Gross Income Tax (CAGIT) rate by the same rate as a jail tax so taxpayers would not see a tax increase. However, several entities including the city of New Albany, fire districts, various townships, the school system and library would see a decrease under that plan. All receive CAGIT funds.
"I think it's a bad idea to reduce CAGIT," Striegel said. "A lot of entities suffer from that."
The council will also be taking a final vote Wednesday night on an ordinance creating a county foundation.