BOONVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – Could Warrick County residents expect a tax raise? It’s part of an ongoing discussion among emergency officials and the Warrick County council.
Residents would be looking at a point five percent tax increase if it goes through. Emergency officials say with the county growing exponentially, there is more demand for critical services.
“We’ve seen a 197% increase in emergency response calls just in our department. You know, back in 2001, we were making roughly 400 calls a year, and now we’re up over 1200 calls a year,” said Boonville Fire Chief Steven Byers.
Byers said his department is handling this volume with the same number of firefighter/EMTs and the same equipment. He says, as of now, they’re not staying on path with the population increase.
He and other members of the local income tax committee are asking the county council to consider a .5% tax increase.
Sheriff Mike Wilder also expressing how these much-needed safety funds would go towards outdated technology including new body cams.
Wilder said his department is also extremely short-staffed.
“We had two calls coming in simultaneously at Park Place Apartments, they had a car fire. It was catching another car on fire and putting the people that live inside at risk. An officer was calling for backup to help evacuate the apartments. We had another emergency which you probably heard more about where a truck ran through an apartment complex. Two people in the truck, one was trapped. And obviously, he didn’t make it, but officers were there trying to make an emergency rescue,” said Wilder.
He also says the county is in need of a new jail. Councilman-at-large Ted Metzger said he agrees that there is a need for a new jail, but that doubling the tax is a bit excessive especially as we come out of a pandemic. He says he’s more in favor of finding other places to make cuts.
“Someone earning $50,000 per year, it’s $4.81 per week, that would come out of income to cover the that increase. So, you know, it’s a very minor tax, they would have a huge benefit to public safety throughout the county,” said Byers.
“What if something’s happened in one spot and something happened somewhere else? Like there’s not enough people to get there to be able to help them. Somebody could be injured, hurt worse than they are? So if it helps, I’m for it,” said Warrick County resident Carolyn Kindred.
The council has also made last week’s LIT presentation available for the public to review to see what exactly those specific needs are for each department.
Those would like to express their thoughts on the proposal can attend a public hearing will be held on July 8 at 5:00 p.m.