Warrick County tax proposal passes first hurdle

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BOONVILLE, Ind. (WEHT)- To some, a .5 percent tax increase may not sound like much. Warrick County Councilman-at-large Ted Metzger says it would roughly work out to an extra $4.81 per week for anyone earning $50,000 per year. But to the law enforcement, fire departments, and emergency services in the county, those extra funds mean a lot.

At Thursday’s County Council meeting, Chief Deputy Sheriff Paul Kruse played audio from the county’s dispatch center, flooded with calls. Kruse says the extra money means the office can hire new deputies, dispatchers, and support staff. According to Kruse, it also means needed improvements to the county’s jail.

Kruse explains that the jail is too small and outdated to properly service the county or the inmates, noting that they can’t get a stretcher to certain cellblocks when inmates need help. In other words, Kruse says the county has outgrown the jail.

Census data shows the county has grown considerably since the jail was built. In 1990, the county’s population stood at 44,920 people. In 2019, that number grew to 62,998 people. A projection from the Indiana Business Research Center suggests the county’s population could reach 70,000 by 2030.

Ohio Township Trustee Chad Bennett says the time is right to increase funding for public safety. Bennett explains that he doesn’t want to be in a position to explain why emergency services took 20 minutes to respond- if they respond at all.

While the packed crowd in the Warrick County Courthouse largely supported the measure that passed its first reading 5-2, there was a heated exchange between councilman Greg Richmond and one man opposed to the measure.

The tax measure was not finalized Thursday and the second reading of the measure will happen at the next council meeting in August.

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