Allen County Councilors vote to increase local income tax rates to fund $316M jail

A measure to increase local income tax rates by .11% passed by a 4-3 vote
Published: Oct. 26, 2023 at 9:38 AM EDT
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ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (WPTA) - Allen County Council members voted on Thursday to increase the county’s income tax rate by .11% to help fund the construction of a new jail.

RELATED REPORTS: New Allen County Jail Updates

During the meeting, council members voted 5-2 to reconsider a motion that would adopt a Correctional local income tax (LIT) rate of .12%. In a second vote to adopt the Correctional LIT rate at .11%, the measure passed 4-3.

They say they were able to decrease that number by using revenue from other funds. $30 million will come from cash the county has and $15 million will come from the ARPA Revenue Replacement funds.

Allen County Councilman Tom Harris explained why he voted in favor of the measure:

Councilman Kyle Kerley was among those voting against the measure.

The Allen County Board of Commissioners submitted a letter to Allen County Councilors on Tuesday, requesting that councilors impose a .15% Correctional LIT rate, down from their originally proposed .20%.

They say following several discussions with both constituents and councilors, they want to ensure they are not overtaxing residents while also securing enough funds so they wouldn’t have to raise rates again.

President Tom Harris says the vote allows them to move forward with the more than $316 million project. The county closed on the purchase of 140 acres of land on Meyer Road to construct the new jail back in April. A completion date for the jail is estimated for April 2027.

During an October status conference with a U.S. District Court, Judge Damon Leichty told Allen County leaders to “either act or answer”, saying a definitive solution needs to be reached. The judge then gave the county a deadline of October 31 to approve funding for the jail.

With Thursday’s vote, the county has met the judge’s deadline. On or after Nov. 1 we should receive an update from the judge.

However, members of Help Not Handcuffs and residents of the Sunnymede Community were not happy with the council’s vote. A majority of Thursday’s meeting was spent on public comment with dozens of residents upset about the new jail location, and the amount being spent on the new jail.

Here’s what they had to say:

Allen County Corrections Officers, along with other jail and sheriff department officials attended the meeting. County commissioners were not in attendance.

After the first vote was shot down, those against the jail cheered only to be silent during the second vote. Leaders of Help Not Handcuffs tell 21Alive that though they are disappointed they will continue to look for opportunities and short-term solutions to help inmates in the current jail.

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