VIGO COUNTY (WTHI)- A local economist is taking action towards making a decision about two proposed Vigo County Projects.
Those projects are a new jail and renovating the county's three main schools.
Robert Guell has been teaching Economics at Indiana State University for about 25 years. He says he feels as though it's his purpose to give back to the community by researching what he knows best; bond debt.
"We can afford to have some debt, but the question is how much?" Guell said.
It's a question that Guell feels was not even considered at the county council meeting held in September. At the meeting, county leaders proposed a tax increase to help fund a new jail and public safety.
So, Guell partnered with Kevin Christ, a professor at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, to conduct a study that answers how much of a tax increase Vigo County can afford. And, if the projects are even afforable.
Guell and Christ worked with Department of Local Government Finance in Indianapolis and county leaders to make sure their analysis was accurate.
"It's really about choosing wisely," Guell said.
The two professors wanted to purposely set aside other city finances, such as the question of the Hulman Center and waste water treatment. They wanted their only focus to be the new jail and new schools.
"We probably put in about 25 to 30 hours," Guell said.
Over the span of about one month, Guell and Christ found some answers.
"We can't really do both at the high end," Guell said. "We can't really even afford to do either at the high end."
Guell says the most expensive option would be to 25 percent tax increase for top of the line renovations. This is something he says Vigo County really can't afford.
The cheapest option would be a 15 percent tax increase.
"That is not enough to pay the bonds," Guell said.
But, he says it still wouldn't be enough money to pay the big bonds on the jail and luxurious schools.
"If we're going to do both, we have to choose a cheap option of both," Guell said.
The study found that even the cheapest option for the two projects would boost the per capita tax burden to among the highest in the state. Vigo County will still be one of the most in-debt counties in Indiana for 10 to 15 years.