Local income tax losses projected higher than any county in state

Next year, Whitley County is projected to lose more income tax revenue than any other county in the state, according to the Association of Indiana Counties. This year, the county received about $8.76 million in county adjusted gross income tax revenue and about $2.04 million in county economic development income tax revenue. If estimates from the AIC hold true for 2011, those numbers will be only about two-thirds of their current levels. For CAGIT, that means about $3.24 million less, and about $754,000 less in CEDIT funds. Though just estimates at this time, the 37 percent and 36.97 percent decreases, respectively, likely reflect high unemployment and fewer hours worked at many local businesses and industries during 2009, when the taxes were collected that will be distributed in 2011. Like all other counties in the state, Whitley County receives its revenue two years in arrears, according to county auditor Linda Gerig. The county council decided at budget time to completely fund its 2011 EMS contract with CEDIT funds, a plan which may be affected by how true the predictions hold for lost revenue. “That’s really going to hurt us, especially if we’re going to fund EMS out of that,” said Kim Wheeler, county council chair. The council decided not to use the county’s rainy day fund to support EMS, but may have to without the expected revenue in the CEDIT fund. Wheeler hopes to see the CEDIT fund rebuild in the future, not only for the sake of funding services, but also because it will be a sign that more Whitley County residents are working and earning good wages. In 2009, the county had an annual unemployment rate of 12.2 percent, according to data from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. For July of this year, the number declined to 9.8 percent. Northeast Indiana has some of the largest projected losses, with LaGrange County expected to lose about 22 percent in each fund. Elkhart, Allen and Wabash counties all hover around the mid-20 percentages in expected losses. Noble and Huntington counties are in the mid-teens for their expected percentage losses. Crawford County, on the south state line, is expected to lose the least in each category, with 6 percent declines in both categories projected.Chris@thepostandmail.com