|LVIA's Charles Everett (L) and Mike Dowd (R) |
justify $250k Braden Airpark grant
On Wednesday, Council balked at a $250,000 grant to kickstart improvements at Braden Airpark. They changed course when Executive John Brown assured them that no real estate tax dollars would be used. He said he would fund the grant with table games revenue from Sands Casino. With that assurance, the grant was adopted 8-1, with Ken Kraft being the sole dissenter. He said he'd like to see what Forks Township and Lafayette College will do before committing county resources. But Brown said that the Countyneeds "to step up and show good faith." He stated that without the revenue stream from commercial facilities to be built at the site, it will fail.
Real estate taxes make up only $99 million of the $313 million in anticipated money next year. The rest is mostly "pass through" money from the state and federal government to fund human services extending from child abuse investigations to senior centers.
This budget will fund $27 million in capital improvements. Brown has continued the practice,started last year, of setting aside one mill of taxes ($7.9 million) for capital projects like maintenance of the County's 119 bridges, the purchase of the Human Services building and the construction of a new jail.
Though Brown has told Council that re-assessment is about 18 months away, the budget does provide for two temporary assessors to work on a prelude to what is coming.
A $2 million increase in salary costs is offset by a $2 million decrease in fringe benefit costs. Union increases are governed by their contracts. There is also a two percent payhike to the County's nonunion workforce. This was supported by all Council members except Mat Benol. He gave no explanation for his dissent.
The budget includes a structural deficit. The County is spending more than it is taking in, and has dipped into reserves to the tune of $8.2 million.
Council also proposed an ordinance setting the millage rate for next year at 11.8 mills, which means there will be no tax hike. A home assessed at $75,000 will have a $885 tax bill. The millage rate ordinance is scheduled for adoption on December 15, the last meeting of the year.