WBEZ | Marilyn Krusas http://www.wbez.org/tags/marilyn-krusas Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Tax avoidance leads to plea deal for Gary politician http://www.wbez.org/news/tax-avoidance-leads-plea-deal-gary-politician-106421 <p><p>A long-time member of the City Council in Gary, Indiana will have to resign following her guilty plea for tax evasion.</p><p>Marilyn Krusas joined the council back in 2000, representing the city&rsquo;s upscale Miller Beach lakefront community.</p><p>She had become known on the council as a fiscal conservative and a stickler for keeping the council on its toes.</p><p>But apparently, in her personal finances, there were problems.</p><p>She accepted a plea deal with the U.S. Attorney&rsquo;s office in Hammond today. Her defense attorney, former Gary Mayor Scott King, negotiated the deal.</p><p>In the plea deal, Krusas admits that the last time she filed personal income taxes was in 1991.</p><p>She also admits she did not pay taxes on&nbsp; $232,000 she inherited four years ago.</p><p>Court documents indicate that Krusas tried to conceal the money from the Internal Revenue Service by withdrawing substantial sums of cash from her bank account through money orders and cashier checks.</p><p>She gave a relative $50,000 and kept $60,000 in cashiers checks, court records show, while using some of her inheritance money to pay off her mortgage and other creditors.</p><p>Gary City Council President Kyle Allen joined the City Council the same year as Krusas.</p><p>He said her experience with issues facing the city will be difficult to replace.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;It is unfortunate. Experience is always good. It will be missed,&rdquo; Allen told WBEZ.&nbsp; &ldquo;I just hope everything works out for her and I wish her the best.&rdquo;</p><p>But Gary resident and city council watchdog Jim Nowacki said he&rsquo;s happy to see Krusas go, mainly because she allowed big ticket projects -- like the city&rsquo;s minor league baseball stadium and new police station -- to be developed.</p><p>&ldquo;She became of the city&rsquo;s biggest booster for the baseball stadium and the public safety building. Both of those have become problems for the city,&rdquo; Nowacki said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m very happy for her to lose her seat and see somebody else come in fresh.&rdquo;</p><p>A sentencing date for Krusas has not been set.</p><p>She could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.&nbsp;</p><p><b id="internal-source-marker_0.138904974097386" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Michael Puente is a reporter with WBEZ. Follow him </span><a href="https://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews" style="text-decoration: initial;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(102, 193, 186); background-color: rgb(245, 245, 245); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">@</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 153, 140); background-color: rgb(245, 245, 245); text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">MikePuenteNews</span></a></b></p></p> Mon, 01 Apr 2013 17:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/tax-avoidance-leads-plea-deal-gary-politician-106421 Gary seeks bailout from state of Indiana http://www.wbez.org/story/budget/gary-seeks-bailout-state-indiana <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//Use this one.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The city of Gary is aiming for an $11 million property tax bailout from the state of Indiana. City officials, including Mayor Rudy Clay, will be in Indianapolis Friday morning to make their case to Indiana&rsquo;s Distressed Unit Appeals Board.</p><p>The process is necessary, given that Indiana&rsquo;s clamped down on local government&rsquo;s power to raise property taxes. The Hoosier state&rsquo;s constitution now caps homeowners&rsquo; property taxes at one percent of a home&rsquo;s value, so every city from farm towns to Indianapolis can only take in so much in property taxes.</p><p>That&rsquo;s a good deal for taxpayers, but it has sapped money from some city&rsquo;s coffers.</p><p>But local governments have had an out; they could ask Indiana&rsquo;s Distressed Unit Appeals Board (DUAB) for an exception, and permission to raise property tax rates for a year. So far Gary&rsquo;s been the only Indiana city to ask for such help from the DUAB. It&rsquo;s received help two years in a row.</p><p>Given that this is the final year it can ask for such help, though, it&rsquo;s no wonder that Gary officials are apprehensive about Friday&rsquo;s hearing. They&rsquo;ll have to convince the DUAB that Gary&rsquo;s been fiscally responsible. They&rsquo;ll explain how they&rsquo;ve slashed from several places, including the fire department, which laid off 34 firefighters late last week.</p><p>&ldquo;Public safety is the last thing that you want to affect because it is a core service. But I also realize that each year that goes by the amount of money that we are allowed to use to provide these services shrinks,&rdquo; said Kyle Allen, vice president of the Gary City Council.</p><p>&ldquo;Eighty-five percent of our revenue comes from property taxes so, somebody comes in and tells you to cut 50 percent of your budget and we expect you to comply in three years and still provide the same amount of service is basically unrealistic.&rdquo;</p><p>Fellow Gary city council member Marilyn Krusas is usually critical of how Gary spends money, but even she says Gary should get an exception to the tax cap.</p><p>&ldquo;A city this size for the services, basic services, fire protection alone, and police protection, public safety is $30 million. That takes up over 60 percent of our budget,&rdquo; Krusas said. &ldquo;But you can&rsquo;t just reduce with budget solely by cutting. There has to be revenue generation and that would be coming from new homeowners, new businesses and the like coming into the city.&rdquo;</p><p>And, there&rsquo;s the rub for some.</p><p>If the board allows Gary to keep charging higher property taxes, Gary&rsquo;s property tax rate would hover at three percent, making Gary&rsquo;s rate the highest in Indiana. Critics say that could scare new investment away from Gary.</p><p>Tony Walker, chairman of the Gary Public Library Board, agrees with that logic. Walker&rsquo;s board is a separate taxing unit from the city.</p><p>The Gary library system must slash its budget in half, from about $6 million to $3 million due to the property tax caps. One option officials are considering is to shutter the main library in downtown Gary. The move would spare four branch libraries located throughout the city.</p><p>Walker says a smaller budget simply won&rsquo;t allow him to keep open the main branch, which is the system&rsquo;s costliest.</p><p>Still, Walker said he won&rsquo;t ask for help from the DUAB.</p><p>&ldquo;I am absolutely opposed to it. Right now, our property owners are pretty much at peak at what they can take,&rdquo; Walker says. &ldquo;We didn&rsquo;t feel we should go and raise the taxes on the property owners just to put a Band-Aid on a situation that&rsquo;s going to require some austerity.&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 07 Jan 2011 02:16:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/budget/gary-seeks-bailout-state-indiana