Marshall County Coroner John Grolich made a request during the public comment portion of the Commissioner’s meeting on Monday.  His request, to implement a Public Safety Local Income Tax.

Grolich who serves as the Indiana Volunteer Firefighters Association District 5 Chairman said House Bill 1454 creates the possibility of our County Council to instill a Public Safety Local Income Tax (LIT) for fire and EMS services in the county.  He said, “The language is buried in a bill that covers DLGF and is 250 some pages and there is about a page and a half for this provision for public safety for fire and EMS.” 

The bill provides the ability to implement a Public Safety LIT from .01% to .05% on citizen’s income.  The current income tax is 3.15%, next year it will be 3% and in 2026 it will be 2.9%.   

Grolich said a retired State Representative said, if you can’t afford this, then you can’t afford fire service. He said he was looking for support from the commissioners so that when he goes to the County Council on April 11th, he can share their support with them.   

Grolich gave an example and said on a $4,000 monthly income the impact would be about $2.  He estimated at .05% the county would receive $700,000 to divide among the emergency responders in Marshall County. 

When Commissioner Kevin Overmyer asked how the funds would be divided Grolich said the initial language said the split would be based on assessed evaluation, but he can’t find that language in the bill that passes.  His recommendation was to share the funds equally with all the departments noting that Polk and Tippecanoe Township and the Town of LaPaz struggle more than Plymouth and Bremen.  He said, “I think if we could divide that up equally, I think it would be a great shot in the arm for all of our emergency responders.” 

Commissioner Overmyer asked if Fire Territories would share in the revenues too and Grolich said yes.

Grolich said, “Technology is one of the biggest obstacles they deal with.  Things change annually.” 

Commissioner Stan Klotz said, “My concern is, I know it doesn’t sound like much of a tax increase, but it’s a tax increase and right now I just don’t know it’s a good time for people with inflation and everything else.  I think we all agree public safety is and should be our first and most main goal and I support that 100%.”  

The commissioner questioned why in some cases it’s not the first thing they fund.  Klotz said, “It seems like we have money for other things but then they come up short on public safety.”   He continued, “Before we start raising taxes that ought to be looked at.  I’m not opposed to taking care of and funding public safety.  I think it’s our obligation to do that.  I’m just not sure raising taxes is necessarily the best way to go to do it.”

Grolich said in the fire service they are seeing a drop in volunteerism.  He said membership in the Indiana Volunteer Fire Fighter Association has dropped from 18,000 7 or 8 years ago down to 13,000.  He commented that this is a problem across the state, it’s not unique to Marshall County.

Commissioner Kevin Overmyer said there is never a good time for a tax increase.  He made the motion to support the request of support for a Public Safety LIT.  He said, “When you look at public safety, if we don’t help fund that, I think we’re falling short.”  Overmyer made a non-binding motion to recommend the County Council at least look at a .05% Public Safety LIT.  Commissioner Mike Burroughs seconded the motion and it passed with a 2-1 vote.  Commissioner Klotz voted against the motion.