PENDLETON – With Police Chief Marc Farrer on the importance of additional funding for public safety, Pendleton City Council has passed a resolution to increase income tax for public safety.
City council voted unanimously on Tuesday to increase the public safety income tax for Madison County by 0.3%.
With the action taken in Pendleton, the 30-day deadline for passing the tax increase began with 50 votes required by the Madison County Tax Board.
Farrer said the town of Pendleton had suffered more arrests than the city of Alexandria in the past year.
âWe cannot meet the needs,â he said. “We are going to start losing officers to Hancock County because they are offering a higher salary.”
Farrer said he was “super excited” at the possibility of additional funding for public safety in the community.
“It will benefit all of Madison County,” he said.
George Gasparovic, the Pendleton City Court judge, asked what the impact of the tax increase would be on the citizens of Madison County.
Madison County Sheriff Scott Mellinger said county and local community budgets continued to be squeezed over the past 15 to 20 years.
“We will either continue the public security services or cut other services,” he said.
City Councilor Bob Jones asked about the possibility of the state of Indiana providing more funds to hire assistant prosecutors and public defenders in Madison County.
Andrew Hanna, deputy chief prosecutor, said 91 other prosecutors’ offices would seek additional public funding. He doubted the county would receive additional state aid.
Council Chairman Chet Babb said the town of Pendleton had been doing well in recent years.
Babb said he had supported the hiring of more police officers at Pendleton for several years, but funding was not available.
âI don’t see how we can’t get past this,â he said. “This is a plus for the County and Town of Pendleton.”
Hanna said the proposed tax increase is of paramount importance to every community.
âThe $ 8 million will be spent by all municipalities based on population,â he said.
Hanna said the county’s criminal justice system has been underfunded for decades.
He said Pendleton will receive around $ 237,000 starting in 2022 if the 0.3% tax increase is approved.
Hanna said Madison County’s tax burden will still be lower than 26 other counties in Indiana.
âIt’s not a big jump,â he said. âThe taxes raised will be dollars spent on public safety. The cumulative effect will be a safer Madison County.
Mellinger said the crime rate is a county-wide problem.
âIt’s a quality of life issue for every citizen of this county,â he said.
Criminal justice handled the high crime rate as well as possible, Mellinger said.
âTo maintain this high level, he needs a bullet in the arm,â he said. âThe tax has not been increased for 25 years. The county took money out of the general public safety fund. The well has dried up. “
Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.