PENDLETON – With police chief Marc Farrer explaining the importance of additional funding for public safety, the Pendleton Town Council passed a resolution to raise the public safety income tax.

The town council Tuesday voted unanimously to increase the public safety income tax for Madison County by 0.3%.

With the action taken in Pendleton the 30-day clock for adoption of the tax increase began ticking with 50 votes required by the Madison County Tax Council.

Farrer said the town of Pendleton has had more arrests than the city of Alexandria during the past year.

“We can’t meet the needs,” he said. “We will start losing officers to Hancock County because they’re providing a higher salary.”

Farrer said he was “super excited” about the possibility of additional funding for public safety in the community.

“This will benefit all of Madison County,” he said.

George Gasparovic, the judge of the Pendleton Town Court, asked how the tax increase would impact the citizens of Madison County.

Madison County Sheriff Scott Mellinger said budgets in the county and local communities continue to be squeezed over the past 15 to 20 years.

“We will either continue services for public safety or have to cut other services,” he said.

Councilman Bob Jones asked about the possibility that the state of Indiana will provide more funding to hire deputy prosecutors and public defenders in Madison County.

Andrew Hanna, Chief Deputy Prosecutor, said 91 other prosecuting attorney offices will be seeking additional state funding. He doubted the county would receive additional state assistance.

Council President Chet Babb said the town of Pendleton has been making do in the past few years.

Babb said he has supported for a number of years the hiring of more police officers in Pendleton but the funding was not avai lable.

“I don’t see how we can’t pass this,” he said. “This is a plus for the county and the town of Pendleton.”

Hanna said the proposed tax increase is on paramount importance to every community.

“The $8 million will be spent by all the municipalities based on population,” he said.

Hanna said the county’s criminal justice system has been underfunded for decades.

He said Pendleton will receive an estimated $237,000 starting in 2022 if the 0.3% tax increase is approved.

Hanna said the Madison County tax burden would still be lower than 26 other counties in Indiana.

“This is not a big jump,” he said. “The taxes raised will be dollars spent on public safety. The cumulative effect will be a safer Madison County.”

Mellinger said the crime rate is a county wide problem.

“It’s a quality of life problem for every citizen in this county,” he said.

The criminal justice has been handling the high crime rate as well as possible, Mellinger said. “To maintain that high standard, it needs a shot in the arm,” he said. “The tax has not been raised in 25 years. The county has squeezed money from the general fund for public safety. The well has run dry.”
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