Channel 44 News: Income Tax Hike, Budget Approved in Four-Hour Long City Council Meeting

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It was a busy and long day at Evansville City Council.

There were two hot-button items on the agenda: a county-wide income tax hike and the 2018 city budget.

The purpose behind the income tax hike is to use the money collected for public safety. Currently, people in Vanderburgh County pay about a one percent income tax. The tax hike increases the rate to 1.20 percent.

“I just don’t feel like putting a tax on the back of the tax payers is something they don’t really get a benefit of,” said Hayden. “I mean we agree public safety needs more stuff, but I think the we’ve shown them in years prior that we’ve gotten them things in other ways.”

With the money collected from the tax helping fund the jail, police and firemen salaries, emergency services, and 911 are just a few of the things it could go toward. It would ultimately be up to city council to decide where the money goes.

“I have a question, it’s rhetorical anybody can answer it,” said Larry Zuber, Fire Union president. “Does anybody want to drive around with their kids in a thirty year old vehicle? I think not, yet it’s okay until last month to run 15 firefighters in a vehicle that was 26-years-old.”

The tax hike narrowly passed city council with a 5 to 4 vote. Council members Missy Mosby, Jonathan Weaver, Dan McGinn, Dan Adams, and Michelle Mercer voting in favor of the tax hike. Council members Connie Robinson, Justin Elpers, John Hayden and Jim Brinkmeyer voting against it.

Evansville City Council then moved on to discuss the proposed $370 million dollar budget for 2018.

Discussions between council members began with 13 amendments to the budget. Finance Committee Chairman McGinn did this in hopes all council members could get on the same page and later pass the budget.

Council was originally going to take away METS U.S 41 bus route ($120,000) in an amendment but after public comment, they voted to withdraw the amendment. There was also an amendment to eliminate $105,000 worth of funding to 16 non-profits, who have been hit hard by budget cuts in years past.

“When we succeed, we all succeed. When we grow, we all grow,” said one man during public comment. “So thus, these non-profits are essential in growing this community. So I would ask you to reconsider that as we grow together, let this be a collaborative effort, not one by which we say that we’re just going to let the non-profits fend for themselves.”

That amendment was voted down by council, which means those organizations will receive funding for at least one more budget year.

After going through all 13 amendments council voted on the budget. Council cut about $1.5 million dollars from the budget. With an 8-1 vote the 2018 Evansville Budget was passed by council.

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