As local city and town councils continue to debate raising the public safety income tax by 0.3%, what has not been discussed is how they could utilize about $5 million.

It’s been well documented that Madison County’s share of approximately $3 million will be used for a new jail and on the criminal justice system. About $1.5 million will be held in reserve by the county should the correctional facility tax, already implemented by the county council, fail to generate the necessary funds for the bond issue.

In reality, if the bond is issued for 20 years, at the time the jail is paid off, the county could have about $30 million in reserve.

No one expects the county not to start utilizing the reserve funds for two decades. Once that fund builds up to cover an annual bond payment, the county council could decide on how those funds will be spent.

I doubt anyone expects the correctional facility tax not to generate the annual bond payment. It can be anticipated that as salaries increase, so will the income from the tax.

Anderson will receive $3.6 million if the public safety tax increase is implemented. The city has budgeted $23 million next year for the police and fire departments. So, if the tax hike is approved, it could free up $3.6 million in the city’s general fund spending.

The City Council could decide to use a portion of the proceeds for property tax relief, increase funding for parks and street paving or tackle another project.

Granted, some of that $3.6 million should be retained in the police and fire departments to increase salaries and upgrade equipment.

Elwood is expected to receive $560,000 and Alexandria about $364,000. Those are funds that could be used in a similar fashion as Anderson, except possibly for property tax relief.

I wonder what ideas for spending the additional funds for improvements in both communities could become a reality. The list is almost endless.

Pendleton and Lapel are the only communities thus far to vote for the tax increase. In Pendleton, where officials expect the population will grow to 40,000 residents in the future, there could be a possible $237,000 in added revenues.

The town council would like to hire additional police officers, similar to what the Lapel council would like to do with the funds, in addition to more patrol cars.

The median income in Madison County is $49,522, according to the county’s fiscal consultant. That will amount to an additional $233 in taxes yearly. That’s $4.48 per week.

People collecting Social Security or pensions won’t pay the tax increase, and the tax is levied on a person’s adjusted net income.

In the case of the county residents, the increase in the public safety income tax as stated will result in a safer community. That’s the same in every county community.

Some of the county funds could be use for drug rehabilitation programs.

How much is adequate public safety worth? That’s a question not only elected officials but every resident should be asking right now.

Senior Reporter Ken de la Bastide’s column publishes Saturdays. Contact him at ken.delabastide@heraldbulletin.com or 765-640-4863.

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Senior Reporter covering Anderson and Madison County government, politics and auto racing for The Herald Bulletin. Has been working as a journalist in central Indiana since 1977.