Entities that stand to lose tax revenue react to St. Joe Co. 911 funding plan

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. (WNDU) - Could one tax tweak lead to another?

That’s one possibility in light of a plan to change the way St. Joseph County’s 911 dispatch center is financed.

The proposed plan is to dedicate a portion of the local option income tax to the dispatch center, effectively redirecting some $8 million that now goes somewhere else.

Centre Township has a property tax rate to fund its fire department, but it has been able to cover its administrative and poor relief costs entirely through income tax revenue -- the very income tax revenue that would drop by 40% under the new 911 funding plan.

“We find ourselves in position with enough cash to probably make it through 2020, but going forward, we would have to start to levy taxes again, so if the people [who] are working on this think that they don't want to raise taxes, they will raise taxes somewhere,” Centre Township Board President Tom Lindenman said.

The new 911 funding plan would decrease Harris Township’s income tax take by $86,000. That’s about 17% of all the tax revenue Harris Township receives.

In a written statement, Harris Township Trustee Kenneth Lindsay called into question the way in which the dispatch center project has been managed, saying, “Costs ended up far in excess of what was planned. You’ll pardon me if I wonder aloud whether others are being asked to pay for those outcomes.”

The new 911 funding plan promises to be a sad chapter in the life of local libraries. The Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library would lose nearly $163,000.

In a written statement, the library director said she anticipated a loss of revenue due to the circuit breaker, but Donna Meeks wrote, “I must share my disappointment that libraries may take an additional and unexpected hit.”

“Something will go, and our community will feel that loss,” Meeks's statement goes on to say.

The 911 center is now funded by the cities of South Bend and Mishawaka, along with St. Joseph County government.

The proposed change is designed to spread out the funding burden across the county.