PRINCETON — A proposed .2% local option income tax earmarked for the Gibson County Jail's improvements and operation remains on the table for more study by the Gibson County Council.
Following an Aug. 6 public hearing, council members met in regular session Tuesday, tabling discussion of the proposal to their September monthly meeting.
County Attorney James McDonald told the council if they act on the tax by Oct. 31, it can be collected in January.
Councilman Jeremy Overton asked when the jail study committee's report would be available for review. Gibson County Commissioner Steve Bottoms said that while the findings will be made public, it will be difficult for recommendations to be made with there's no funding option in place.
The law requires that the county complete a feasibility study and conduct a public hearing on the study prior to any jail construction or expansion.
The proposed tax would be dedicated solely to capital improvements and operation of the Gibson County Jail, raising about $1.5 million per year, at a cost of about $96 more per year to the median $51,000 annual wage-earner in Gibson County.
The tax would be imposed on Gibson County resident income, not out-of-county workers.
A financial consultant earlier told council members the jail tax can only be in place for 22 years. The .2% tax would increase Gibson County’s overall local option income tax rate from .7% to .9%.
Gibson County’s LOIT rate is among the lowest of Indiana’s 92 counties, with only four counties imposing a lower LOIT rate than Gibson.
Last month County Attorney James McDonald told the council that state statute requires the LOIT revenue from the jail tax to be maintained in a separate dedicated county fund and used by the county only for paying for correctional facilities and rehabilitation facilities in the county.
A federal lawsuit has been filed against the county, alleging overcrowding and understaffing at the jail.
Some of Gibson County's severe weather warning sirens are in need of repair or replacement, Gibson County Emergency Management Agency Director Terry Hedges told the council.
Hedges said he has applied to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security for a $180,000 grant in hopes of repairing 18 sirens. He said the cost of a new siren would likely be about $25,000.
He told the council he's looking at some solar panels to power the sirens. Hedges said the county has two different brands of siren equipment, and one of the companies is out of business.
If the sirens aren't operable, Hedges said the only other option the county has is to use social media for weather alerts.
Gibson County officials dedicated the first 12 weather sirens in the spring of 2001, funded with $100,000 in Economic Development Income Tax revenue and $40,000 in grant funding. The county added more sirens over the next three years.
In other business at Tuesday morning's monthly regular business session:
• Council members agreed the recommended tax levy increase for local government units this year should not exceed 3.5 percent from last year.
• The council approved additional appropriations of $300,000 for the Owensville Montgomery Fire Territory, $100,000 in pauper attorney fees for Gibson Circuit Court, $1,723.04 for supplies for the sheriff's office, approved an amendment to the salary schedule and approved a $15,000 contracted emergency preparedness position to be filled by the health department.
• The council agreed to advertise additional appropriations of $35,000 for new windows and HVAC work at Oakland City Public Library, $42,000 for the health department to purchase a truck, $3,672 for inmate medical care at the jail.
• Members approved fund transfers of $11,812 for the sheriff's department from patrol officers to overtime expenses and $1,191.50 from patrol to salary increase. They also approved a $4,200 transfer for part-time help for Purdue Extension.
Following the regular business meeting, council members resumed 2020 budget workshops.