By Jennifer Zartman Romano
The Whitley County Council met this morning to hold a public hearing regarding the proposed local option income tax (LOIT).
Council members discussed the measure and voted three to three. Council members Bill Overdeer, John Barrett and Tom Western voted in favor of the tax while council members Paula Reimers, Kim Wheeler and Jim Bayman voted against it. Councilman Glen Larue was not present.
Following the vote, Commissioner Tom Rethlake and Sheriff Marc Gatton provided some much-needed insight into what the tax dollars would have been used for -- unfortunately, too late for officials to consider.
Local resident and entrepreneur Billy Reffitt was in attendance for the meeting, hoping to find out the purpose of the tax.
"I think it's imperative that you detail the need for a new tax of any kind before you impose it, I just wanted to be informed on behalf of my current and future employees," Reffitt said. "If Commissioner Rethlake and the Sheriff had spoken their peace before the vote was taken, the outcome may have been different, in my opinion. Rising costs and lower revenue spell disaster for any business, I certainly get that I hope the Council can take a second look at passing this again after they've analyzed all other methods to curb spending and make their budget work. Personally, I hate the thought of more taxes, but I love living in a safe community so, after hearing more facts, I think this LOIT is needed to ensure our community stays safe and growing in spite of the revenue cuts that have been imposed at the State level."
A special meeting has been set for Tuesday, October 27 at 8 a.m. in the Whitley County Government Center for the County Council to consider the LOIT at the same proposed or lower rate.
In order for a LOIT to impact the 2016 budget, local officials would have to vote the tax into place by October 31.