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St. Joseph County faces more budget cuts following tax hike withdrawal

St. Joseph County, Ind.—

County officials say more cuts are headed to St. Joseph County’s budget.

This comes after the council nixed a property tax hike that would’ve brought in over $1,000,000 in revenue to the county.

Now that this proposal is off the table, officials say the only thing certain is the revenue coming into the Cumulative Capital Development Fund (CCDF) will continue to decline.

In 2002, the county received $.03 for every $100 in property taxes.

15 years later, it’s now getting just over a penny.

“It’s getting real, this is what we got do,” said Michael Hamann, St. Joseph County Auditor.

Reality has set in at the County City Building.

The council’s decision to give tax payers a break Tuesday now means the pressure is on the county to keep finances afloat.

“It’s been declining and it will continue to decline and now we’re going to see real consequences as a result of that action,” said Hamann.

Hamann says the CCDF is what’s losing income from taxpayers.

It’s used for building repairs, technology upgrades and pays for police cars for the county.

The proposal would’ve seen the average homeowner pay about $8 more a year in property taxes in order to cover rising expenses.

The county is now looking at making more cuts.

“Some of these folks have cut as much as they can cut, and they can’t cut anymore,” said Hamann. “That doesn’t mean you can’t find corners to cut here and there but in some cases, I don’t know reasonably what they can do.”

The auditor’s office knows cuts all too well.

It has downsized staff bracing for a tighter budget.

Public safety will feel the crunch as well.

The sheriff will present a draft to the county soon.

The department is looking for a 25 percent increase from last year for its police vehicle fund.

So while it’s asking for $664,000, the county auditor says it might have to work with $300,000 less.

“We have to make about $600,000 worth of cuts,” said Hamann.

Where other cuts will come from at this point is still up in the air.

One thing is certain though, things will be tight in the 2018 budget.

The council can present this proposed tax hike next year in order to raise the CCDF.

In the meantime, the county will take a close look at the spending of that fund to determine if a hike will be necessary.

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