State Senator Ed Charbonneau visited Pulaski County this week to speak to the county commissioners and council during a joint session held Monday night regarding a revenue bill vetoed by Governor Mike Pence that could affect the county’s CAGIT moneys. State Representative Doug Gutwein previously explained to the boards that a clerical error at the state level could force the county to pay taxpayers back millions of dollars that had been collected by the County Adjusted Gross Income Tax – money that had originally been collected to cover the cost of the jail – because the state claims that the county overcharged its taxpayers. The county still owes roughly $5 million on the jail facility.
Charbonneau told the officials that legislators will be in Indianapolis today to determine whether or not they can override the governor’s veto of the bill that was intended to take care of the issue. According to Gutwein, Governor Mike Pence vetoed the bill because he does not approve of “retroactive” conditions, which Gutwein said are necessary in this case due to the state mix-up regarding the CAGIT tax.
Charbonneau told the council and commissioners that he just wanted to be sure he had their support.
“I just came here this evening because I saw on my calendar that you were meeting this evening, and I wanted to make sure, number one, that you are on board with me being down there to pick up 26 senate votes to override that veto,” said Charbonneau.
The senator explained that the state has since stopped the collection of the CAGIT tax, and Auditor Shelia Garling confirmed that, stating the county has not received any CAGIT moneys for June. While the county does have enough money to cover the cost of the jail for the time being, they are hard-pressed to find a solution before their coffers run dry.
Charbonneau said he has received an overwhelming amount of support regarding overriding Pence’s veto.
“I have not been contacted by one constituent that feels that we should not override the veto. That the way we were moving with the bill – it seemed to me at the time it was a very simple correction to an oversight, and whether it was an Indianapolis oversight, it doesn’t make any difference, it was an oversight. No question that the money has been going to the designated purpose from day one,” Charbonneau said.
He said once the veto is overridden the CAGIT tax will automatically be collected once again. Council President Jay Sullivan offered the idea of lowering the CAGIT tax, since they seem to be coming out ahead every month and building up money in that fund – which may have been a reason the state became concerned with the tax.
“There’s been a lot of question by different people who have talked to myself and Shelia about the fact that we do have a considerable amount of money in that fund, and I think we need to review that fund to see if maybe we can, instead of going with the 1.3 percent, go with the 1.2 tax rate on that, and actually decrease the amount of taxes that taxpayers are going to pay to that fund. Maybe something good did come out of this where we just didn’t leave it alone because we are building up some money in there, but we have to make sure that we have enough money to cover the bills that are due,” said Sullivan.
The council and commissioners have signed letters that were sent along with Charbonneau expressing their support and desire to override the veto in order to continue funding the justice center.