GOSHEN — With the Goshen City Council’s approval, the city of Goshen will provide up to $2,500 towards supporting lobbying services aimed at helping Elkhart County adopt a local option income tax (LOIT) ,
The council voted Tuesday, Jan. 7, to supply the amount of up to $2,500, which is aimed at helping local governments combat circuit breaker losses through property tax caps.
The county’s contract with Barnes and Thornburg in Indianapolis is for $5,000 per month. Mayor Allan Kauffman said the city’s portion was decided in proportion for the relief that it would receive if the LOIT is granted to the county.
The tax has been described by county commissioner Mike Yoder as a “disappearing tax.” What that means is that the additional tax rate will decrease as losses due to tax caps decrease.
The LOIT could add up to an additional one percent for local residents, but would lower as losses decrease.
There were several other choices for local option taxes, but local governments favor this method because “it’s the only one that helps schools and libraries,” Kauffman said.
Several members of the council expressed their displeasure with having to work through a lobbyist, but Kauffman said it’s not possible for local officials to be in Indianapolis frequently trying to convince state legislators.
“It’s a little repugnant but I don’t know if there’s another way to play the game,” councilman Everett Thomas said.
“I don’t care much for it, but I understand the need for it,” council president Jim McKee said.
“Hold our noses and vote, I guess,” Thomas said.
David Daugherty, president of the Goshen Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber supports the possibility of the LOIT, saying local governments should at least have the option to collect the taxes to offset their losses.
The council then voted unanimously to contribute the funds to the lobbying effort.
Kauffman said the city may not even have to contribute the whole $2,500. If the option passes the legislature swiftly or it doesn’t gain any traction and fails easily, the city will not have to continue paying the lobbying firm.
The council also began discussing an ordinance on outside storage within the city.
A rough outline of an ordinance was presented Tuesday by city attorney Larry Barkes, but Barkes said he didn’t want the council to pass it.
He simply wanted to force a discussion of where to draw the line of what materials are acceptable to be kept outside or on porches and what shouldn’t be acceptable.
The current ordinance covers only solid waste, Barkes said, meaning the city can only enforce the ordinance when the materials outside are garbage.
Unclear of where to draw the line, Barkes wrote up the new ordinance to try to gather ideas from council members on what they would like to see from an updated outside storage ordinance.
The council, unable to come to any conclusions, tabled the issue. They also decided to form a committee featuring several council members, individuals from the city’s neighborhood associations and the Legal Department.
The committee will eventually meet to discuss how best to write the outside storage ordinance.
Dixie Robinson, Ed Ahlersmeyer and Brett Weddell volunteered to represent the council on the committee.