Boone County passes tax hike for public safety needs

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LEBANON, Ind. -- A Boone County tax council passed an increase to the local income tax to pay for rising public safety costs.

The increase, which will fall on taxpayers at a rate of approximately $200 more a year for each $40,000 in income, goes exclusively to public safety. It's one that Sheriff Mike Nielsen had been advocating for months.

"I can say without hesitation that this is the most important personal and professional endeavor that I have ever and will ever take on in my career," Nielsen said.

Nielsen argued that Boone County has grown by 24 percent in the past 12 years, but his department has not grown at all, putting strain on both the jail and deputies on the road.

At Tuesday's final meeting, the tax council heard public testimony for nearly two hours. A majority of people supported the tax hike, but many did speak against it.

Ultimately, the tax council technically voted unanimously to pass it. Each town and city in Boone County is represented based on its population, and five individuals from Lebanon and Thorntown voted against it, but were outvoted by their respective groups.

The tax increase will need a stamp of approval from the state, and then the money will be doled out by community.

Sheriff Nielsen said that, with county approval, he expected to start hiring more than 20 people next year, and would use 2018 as a target to prove to the community that the tax was a good idea.

Nielsen said that, while other communities have not approached him directly, he does know that there are others looking into similar taxes that go entirely to public safety.

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