Budget Adoption for Monroe County, Perry-Clear Creek Fire Protection, and Solid Waste District Tonight

15 Oct
2014 Monroe County Council

2014 Monroe County Council

Last night, the Monroe County Council began the budget adoption process for Monroe County as well as the Perry-Clear Creek Fire Protection District and the Monroe County Solid Waste Management District, by hearing the first reading of their budgets, tax levies, and tax rates.

The only change that was made during first reading last night was to correct a small error in the County General Fund budget with respect to the salary of the Veterans Affairs officer, increasing the General Fund budget from $20,333,963 to $20,334,639.

Tonight’s meeting will consist of the second reading of and final votes on the budget, tax levies, and tax rates for Monroe County, Perry-Clear Creek Fire Protection District, and Monroe County Solid Waste Management District. In addition, the Council will also hear the second reading of and vote on the Monroe County 2015 Salary Ordinance. Public comment will be taken on any of these budgets, rates, and levies.

The meeting begins at 5:30 PM tonight in the Nat U Hill Room of the Monroe County Courthouse and as usual the meeting will also be broadcast on CATS. Hope to see you there!

Preview of Monroe County Council Meeting Today 2014-10-14

14 Oct
2014 Monroe County Council

2014 Monroe County Council

Today is going to be a big day for the County Council. I have already posted about today’s budget adoption first reading for Monroe County, Monroe County Solid Waste Management District, and Perry-Clear Creek Fire Protection District. But today’s meeting also includes a regular meeting of the Monroe County Council.

The following are the major items of substance on the agenda

1. The County Commissioners are requesting the approval of and appropriation of funds for a $2M general obligation bond for 2015 for capital expenses. This bond has a one-year term, and will be paid for during 2015 by a property tax levy. The County currently has a one-year $2M bond for 2014 that will be paid off by the end of this year, most of which was used for renovations on the courthouse. The Commissioners have not yet presented in detail the projects that the bond will be used for; however, the following is the general summary:

  • County buildings water retrofit — updating sinks, faucets and toilets to more energy efficient versions
  • Community corrections ramp system — replace current ramping system at the Johnson Hardware building with a concrete structure. This will provide better footing in inclement weather
  • Charlotte T. Zietlow Justice Center terrazzo upkeep
  • Replace 3 county vehicles
  • Highway fuel system
  • Tornado sirens (4)
  • Computer replacement and software for virtualization
  • Parking garage / infrastructure repairs or updates — this will be used to improve building efficiency and provide necessary capital for the proposed parking garage
  • HVAC retrofit for enhanced energy efficiency

2. The County Commissioners are presenting the 2015 amendment to the interlocal agreement between Monroe County, the City of Bloomington, and the Town of Ellettsville with respect to animal management. The interlocal agreement both allows the County to enforce animal control rules within the jurisdiction of the Town of Ellettsville and specifies the amount that both Ellettsville and Monroe County pay to the City of Bloomington for use of its animal shelter. Per the interlocal agreement, the costs of the animal shelter are divided up among the City of Bloomington, the Town of Ellettsville, and Monroe County depending on the number of animals brought to the shelter from each jurisdiction. The City of Bloomington absorbs the costs of animals brought in from other counties.

The following table illustrates the breakdown of animals brought into the shelter by jurisdiction, which is used to determine the fees paid in 2015 to the City of Bloomington by Monroe County and the Town of Ellettsville.

Animal Control 2013 Numbers

Animal Control 2013 Numbers

3. The County Council will be voting on its proposed 2014 awards from the Sophia Travis Community Service Grants program. The recommendations, totaling $110K for 2014, are made by the awards committee, consisting of three council members and two members of the public. The recommendations for 2014 are:

Sophia Travis 2014 Proposed Awards

4. The Youth Services Bureau and Probation are requesting the appropriation of an over $92K grant they received from the Annie E. Casey Foundation to implement the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) in Monroe County. The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative is a bipartisan movement for juvenile justice reinvestment. The initiative involves the reallocation of government resources away from mass incarceration and toward investment in youth, families, and communities.

5. Court Services is requesting the appropriation of a $100K grant received for Title IV-D Parenting Time.

6. The Recorder is requesting an additional appropriation of around $15K in order to move two deputy recorders out of the Recorder’s Perpetuation Fund into the General Fund for the remainder of 2014. In my 2015 Budget Hearings Recap I wrote about this issue in more detail. The 2014 budget pays for three of the six employees of the Recorder’s office from the General Fund and three from the Recorder’s Perpetuation Fund. The budget for 2015 pays for five out of the six out of the General Fund. However, the Perpetuation Fund is expected to be depleted before the end of the year, so the Recorder is requesting that this change be made immediately, rather than in the beginning of 2015.

7. The Auditor is requesting an additional appropriation from the Plat Book fund for a special project.

In addition to these items, there will be a few requests for transfer of funds from one category to another, as well as a request from the Commissioners to refill a maintenance position.

This meeting will begin at 5:30PM today in the Nat U Hill Room of the Monroe County Courthouse, and public comment will be taken. As I mentioned in the Preview to 2015 Monroe County Budget Adoption earlier, this meeting will also be shared with the first budget readings for adoption of the 2015 budgets for Monroe County, Monroe County Solid Waste Management District, and Perry-Clear Creek Fire Protection District, and the regular meeting will be temporarily recessed at 6PM for the adoption hearings of the latter two units.

Hope to see you at the meeting!

Preview of Monroe County Budget Adoption Tuesday and Wednesday

12 Oct
2014 Monroe County Council

2014 Monroe County Council

Budget Adoption Process

Last week I wrote about the results of the 2015 Monroe County budget hearings. This upcoming week, the Monroe County Council will formally adopt the 2015 budget, as well as the property tax rates and levies needed to raise the revenues for the budget (not all funds in the budget to be adopted are supported by property taxes). In addition, the Council will adopt the budget and property tax rates and levies for the two other units of government for which the County Council has binding authority: Perry-Clear Creek Fire Protection District and Monroe County Solid Waste Management District.

For all three units, budget adoption will happen over two evenings, Tuesday, October 14 and Wednesday, October 15. Tuesday will consist of what is called first reading: the budget total, tax rate, and tax levy will be read into the record for each fund for each unit. For the Monroe County budget adoption, the 2015 salary ordinance will also be introduced for first reading. The council will discuss, and public comment will be taken. No votes will be taken on first reading. The council will also be discussing our appeal for an excess levy to correct several past errors in assessed value.

On Wednesday, we will essentially repeat the procedure. Budgets, tax rates, and tax levies will be read into the record for the second time for all three units (Monroe County, Perry-Clear Creek, and Solid Waste), the council will discuss, and public comment will be taken. Votes on adopting the budget will be conducted at the end of each deliberation.

Note that the County Council can make changes to the proposed budgets as well, before voting on adoption.

The budget adoption on Tuesday will be conducted along with a regular County Council meeting, so the agenda will be somewhat complicated. The full agenda and packet are available here. Following is the summary of the agenda on Tuesday, though:

  • Regular County Council meeting is called to order at 5:30PM
  • At 6PM, the regular meeting will be recessed, and the hearing for the adoption of the budgets for Perry-Clear Creek Fire Protection District and Monroe County Solid Waste Management District.
  • The adoption hearing for the two units will be continued until Wednesday, after first reading
  • The regular County Council meeting will resume until its conclusion
  • After adjournment of the regular County Council meeting, the budget adoption hearing for Monroe County will be called to order
  • After first reading of the Monroe County budget, rates, and levies, the budget adoption will be continued until Wednesday

Budgets, Tax Rates, and Levies

So are the budgets, rates, and levies that will actually be adopted?

Monroe County

The proposed budget to be adopted for Monroe County is $60,602,338, spread across 47 different funds. 13 of these funds are what is called “Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF)-Reviewed Funds”, which means that the state reviews our budgets, rates, and levies after we adopt them. These DLGF-reviewed funds are:

  • General (this is supported by property taxes and miscellaneous revenue)
  • 2015 Reassessment (this is supported by property taxes)
  • Debt Payment (this is the mortgage on the Showers building, supported by property taxes)
  • Bond #2 (this is a $2M one-year general obligation bond that the County Commissioners are proposing to pay for some building improvement and maintenance projects — the council has not yet voted on this bond; the bond would be supported by property taxes)
  • Convention and Visitors Bureau (this is supported by the innkeepers’ tax)
  • Highway (supported by the state gas tax as well as the local wheel and excise surtax, sometimes called the local option highway user tax, or LOHUT)
  • Local Road & Street (also supported by state gas tax and local wheel and excise surtax)
  • Cumulative Bridge (this is supported by property taxes)
  • Health (this is supported by property taxes)
  • Park Non-reverting Capital fund (this is supported by park fees, such as shelter rentals)
  • County Fair (this is supported by property taxes)
  • Aviation/Airport (this is supported by property taxes as well as airport user fees)
  • Cumulative Capital Development (this is supported by property taxes)

The DLGF-reviewed funds have a total budget of $38,177,152, a proposed tax levy of $25,283,487, and a proposed tax rate of 0.4602 for every $100 of assessed value.

The remaining 44 funds are called home-ruled funds, and are not reviewed by the state. Several of the more significant of these funds include:

  • County Option Income Tax (COIT) fund that supports many critical county functions that used to be in the General Fund
  • Juvenile County Option Income Tax (JCOIT) fund that supports juvenile facilities
  • Monroe County E-911, which receives 911 fees from the state (paid by phone subscribers) and used to support the unified dispatch center
  • Stormwater Management, which receives the stormwater fees collected by the county from property owners outside of the incorporated areas of Bloomington and Ellettsville (which have their own stormwater fees)
  • Supplemental Public Defender Fee, which receives reimbursements from the state for felony cases defended by the public defender
  • The three Monroe County TIF districts, which receive property taxes from the allocation areas for each of the districts

The total budget for these home-ruled funds is $22,425,186.

The complete list of funds, tax rates, and tax levies that make up the Monroe County budget can be found in the 2015 Ordinance for Appropriations and Tax Rate for Monroe County.

Perry-Clear Creek Fire Protection District

The total proposed 2015 budget for the Perry Clear Creek Fire Protection District is $2,322,200, split across two funds: Cumulative Fire, which is used to purchase equipment and pay for the construction of the new fire station, and Fire General, which is used for general operations of the fire department.

The proposed tax levy is $1,544,583 and the proposed tax rate is 0.1532 for every $100 of assessed value.

The amounts for each fund can be found in the 2015 Ordinance for Appropriations and Tax Rate for Perry-Clear Creek.

Monroe County Solid Waste Management District

The total proposed 2015 budget for the Monroe County Solid Waste Management District is $2,949,934, split across two funds: the Solid Waste Management fund, which is used for the operations of the district, and the Debt Service fund, which is used to pay the bond used for the landfill closure.

The proposed tax levy is $1,860,000 and the proposed tax rate is 0.0287 for every $100 of assessed value.

The amounts for each fund can be found in the 2015 Ordinance for Appropriations and Tax Rate for Solid Waste District.

Hope to see members of the public there on Tuesday and Wednesday!

Monroe County 2015 Budget Hearings Recap

2 Oct
2014 Monroe County Council

2014 Monroe County Council

I’m embarrassed to see that I haven’t made a blog post since August 12 — unfortunately there just hasn’t been enough time in the day. However, that doesn’t mean that nothing has been happening in Monroe County Government; in fact, just the opposite! On Tuesday night, the Monroe County Council completed its annual budget hearings for 2015, which took up a good portion of the month of September. Budget hearings are a required annual process in which each county department presents its budget request for the upcoming year, and the county council votes to approve it or make changes.

During budget hearings, the County Council appropriated over $62M for county government functions across 47 funds.

All in all, this was, in my view, a particularly successful budget hearing. The most significant and substantive accomplishments were:

  1. The Council passed a balanced budget. For the first time in a number of years, the Council passed a budget in which planned expenditures for the primary operating expenses (in the General Fund and the County Option Income Tax Fund) are less than planned revenues. I’ll discuss more about the concept of a balanced budget in a future post.
  2. County employees (other than those whose salaries are mandated by state law) will receive a 2.8% cost of living increase. 2.8% represents two years of increase in the actual cost of living (as measured by changes in the Midwest Consumer Price Index from the previous December to December). This is the standard methodology that has been used by the Council in recent years. County employees did not receive any cost of living increase in 2014.
  3. The Human Resources department was increased from one full-time employee to two (moving a half-time position to full-time). Many councilors, including myself, indicated early in budget hearings that this increase was our number one priority if the resources were available. The county has over 525 full-time employees, and over 700 employees including part-time, and 1 full-time HR professional is well below the level needed to properly serve an organization of this size. With the increased resources, the HR department has plans to enhance employee training, increase desk audits, and introduce performance management techniques, along with other initiatives.
  4. Two employees in the Recorder’s Office were moved from the Recorder’s Perpetuation Fund to the General Fund. The Recorder’s Perpetuation Fund is funded by certain fees on recorded mortgages and deeds, along with copies made of these documents, and is statutorily earmarked specifically for the preservation of records and the improvement of record keeping systems and equipment in the Recorder’s Office (in fact, the council doesn’t even appropriate the fund; it is entirely under the control of the Recorder). However, whenever balances in the Recorder’s Perpetuation Fund grow large, county councils are always temped to try to use the Recorder’s Perpetuation Fund to support the general operations of the Recorder’s Office, despite the murky legality of such arrangements. Back in 2008, when the Monroe County Recorder’s Perpetuation Fund’s balance was over half a million $, the Recorder worked with the County Council to move the entire salary of 1 employee, half the salaries of 2 employees, and three quarters of the salaries of 2 employees out of the General Fund into the Recorder’s Perpetuation Fund. This was enormously helpful to the County Council in funding county government through some difficult times; however, by 2013, the balance of the Recorder’s Perpetuation Fund had almost entirely been spent down.In an attempt to stabilize the fund, for the 2014 budget, the Council rearranged the funding of the Recorder’s Office staff, paying for 3 employees out of the Recorder’s Perpetuation Fund and 3 employees out of the General Fund. Unfortunately, due to diminishing revenues from recorded documents, this restructuring wasn’t adequate, and the Recorder’s Perpetuation Fund is now in a position where it can mostly likely not even meet payroll for 2014.In addition, some new legislation in 2014 clarified the use of the Recorder’s Perpetuation Fund for general operations, stating that the fund could be used to fund salaries and other general operational expenses, but only if the Recorder attested each year that the records perpetuation efforts and technology of the department were fully funded. For these reasons, the Council moved two of the three positions funded out of the Perpetuation Fund into the General Fund, leaving only one position in the Perpetuation Fund — the Microfilm Deputy, whose work is clearly related to the purpose of the Perpetuation Fund. Although this may seem somewhat “inside baseball”, this move was a huge step in ensuring the sustainability of the Perpetuation Fund, and weaning the Council off of the use of the very limited Perpetuation Fund to subsidize basic county government operations.
  5. Two employees were moved from the Prosecutor’s Pretrial Diversion Program fund into the General Fund. This situation is very similar to that of the Recorder’s Perpetuation Fund, which which a fee-driven fund (Pretrial Diversion) was used to subsidize basic county government operations that should have been paid for out of County General. In the case of Pretrial Diversion, though, the situation was much more adversarial than with the Recorder’s Office. For a number of years, the Prosecutor’s Office would deposit excess revenues from Pretrial Diversion into the General Fund — in essence, the Pretrial Diversion Program was subsidizing the General Fund.The last year this occurred was 2006, in which $170K was transferred from Pretrial Diversion to the General Fund. During the last year of the Carl Salzmann administration, 2007, this practice was discontinued, and no funds were transferred to the General Fund. In apparent retaliation, in 2008 the County Council transferred $170K of salaries for Prosecutor’s Office employees (legal secretaries and paralegals) from the General Fund into the Pretrial Diversion Program fund.As with the Recorder’s Perpetuation Fund, over the years, the revenue and cost curves went in the opposite direction — pretrial diversion revenue declined overall (though not every year), while personnel costs (salary and benefits) naturally increased, leading to an unsustainable situation. Again, as with the Recorder situation, the Pretrial Diversion Program fund expended all of its reserves, to the point where it faced a negative balance by the end of 2014. Again, the Council started to address the situation in 2013, moving one of the salaries back into the General Fund for 2014. However, again this wasn’t enough, and the Council had to move the two remaining general prosecutorial positions (i.e., positions not there to support the Pretrial Diversion Program) into the General Fund several months ago in 2014.

    The 2015 budget included all of the basic prosecutorial positions in the General Fund that had been moved into the Pretrial Diversion Fund by the Council in 2008 — thereby finally ending the unsustainable subsidy of the Prosecutor’s Office by the Pretrial Diversion Program fund. Incidentally, this is not only an important accomplishment because it ensures the sustainability of the Pretrial Diversion Program; more importantly, it ends a practice that could be perceived as a conflict of interest — i.e., the Prosecutor formerly could be perceived as having an incentive to ramp up the Pretrial Diversion Program in order to fund basic operations.

I’m very proud of all of my colleagues on the County Council and in other county departments this year for what they accomplished — a balanced budget, a cost of living raise of county employees, increased organizational capacity, and weaning the county off of unsustainable fee funds.

Of course, there is still some unfinished business. This year we raised the Juvenile County Option Income (Juvenile COIT) Tax from 0.05% to 0.095%. The 2015 budget moved some youth-related expenses from the General Fund into the Juvenile COIT fund; however, the Youth Services Bureau had a proposal to add two new positions and reclassify several others in order to provide more outreach and build organizational capacity. This proposal was removed from the 2015 budget proposal, however, and will be considered in the future by the County Council on its own. The Treasurer’s Office also requested 1-2 additional staff in order to address claimed chronic understaffing in the office. The Council ultimately declined to add additional positions during budget hearings, but agreed that they needed to address the staffing levels in the future. Finally, the planned revenue for 2015 also included around $250K in an appeal for a one-time excess levy in order to correct several past errors. The Council still needs to complete this appeal — and there is no guarantee we will receive all of what we are requesting.

The next step in the budget process is for the Council to formally adopt the proposed budget, as well as set the tax rates and levies that will be used to fund the property tax portion of these budgets. Budget adoption hearings will be held on Tuesday, 2014-10-14 and Wednesday, 2014-10-15, at 5:30PM each evening.

Preview of Tomorrow’s Monroe County Council Meeting (2014-08-12)

11 Aug
Monroe County Courthouse at Night

Monroe County Courthouse at Night

The agenda and packet for tomorrow’s regular meeting of the Monroe County Council is available here:

Following are the highlights of the agenda:

  • The Assessor is requesting to refill a vacant position (Third Deputy/Administrative Assistant to the Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals)
  • The Monroe County CARES Board is requesting an appropriation of the annual grant allocation of $81,484. Monroe County CARES  (CARES is not an acronym, by the way) is the local coordinating council of the Governor’s Commission for a Drug Free Indiana. The purpose is to coordinate, support, and promote local efforts to prevent and reduce harmful involvement with alcohol and other drugs. The funding comes from drug and alcohol-related court fees, and the grants are divided between prevention, treatment, and criminal justice services.
  • The Youth Services Bureau (YSB) is requesting the appropriation of $116,553 for the Runaway and Homeless Youth grant they received, which funds a full-time counselor and a full-time Safe Place Coordinator/YSB Shelter Outreach Coordinator. This is a very important grant for youth services in Monroe County.
  • The Health Department is requesting the appropriation of a $21,103 grant for bio terrorism prevention and response from the Indiana State Department Of Health, Preparedness Division.
  • The Probation/Community Corrections department is requesting the appropriation the remainder of an already-awarded $11,970 Juvenile Accountability Block Grant, provided by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) to support training for staff to work in a “change based” supervision environment (as opposed to a “compliance based” environment).
  • The Probation/Community Corrections department is requesting an additional appropriation of $7700 from the County’s COIT fund to provide security during day-reporting time (7AM-9AM) at the Johnson Hardware/Community Corrections building. The large number of community corrections participants (day reporting, drug screens, road crew, drug court, home detention and juvenile probation appointments) during a short period of time have created significant safety concerns, including traffic jams on the alley, disorderly conduct, and even drug dealing. Community Corrections is requesting contract funding for an off-duty Bloomington police officer to provide security for Community Corrections during the two hours daily during weekdays.
  • The Public Defender is requesting both permission to refill two vacant positions and for an additional appropriation out of their supplemental fund (state funding) to accommodate the mid-year increases in salary for the Chief Public Defender and Chief Deputy Public Defender in order to match the mid-year increase provided by the state for the Prosecuting Attorney.
  • The Monroe Circuit Court is requesting an additional appropriation of $75,000 out of the County’s COIT fund for the pauper attorney line. This line is spent in two ways: (1) Pauper attorneys are private attorneys that are appointed to indigent defendants when there would be a conflict of interest with the Public Defender (i.e, an attorney in the Public Defender’s office may represent a co-defendant); and (2) Guardians ad Litem may be appointed in adoption, dissolution, guardianship, and juvenile delinquency cases. During the 2014 budget sessions last year, the Court originally requested $150,000; however, due to budgetary constraints that request was reduced by the Council to $75,000. That request was based on the anticipation of spending an excess of $160,000 for 2013 and no anticipated reduction for 2014. Actual expenditures for 2013 were $168,302. Projected expenditures for 2014 could exceed $180,000 to $200,000.
  • The Prosecutor has several requests:
    • To move two positions — a legal secretary and a paralegal, from the Pretrial Diversion fund into County General. These two positions perform general prosecutorial functions and are not related to the Pretrial Diversion program. The degree to which the Pretrial Diversion program should subsidize basic prosecutorial operations has been a significant source of debate over the last 8 years. Because the revenues for Pretrial Diversion have decreased so much in recent years, the Prosecutor is requesting that the positions be moved into County General retroactively to the beginning of the year, at an expense of $68,416 for 2014. We anticipate that these positions will also show up in the Prosecutor’s request for funding from the 2015 County General budget.
    • To create the position and appropriate $36,869 of grant funding for the position of Sex Crimes Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Investigative Assistant from the Office of Violence Against Women via Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.
  • The County Council office is requesting an amendment to the salary ordinance, in order to raise their part-time maximum rate from $20/hour to $30/hour, in order to hire a short-term (two weeks) part-time assistant to prepare budget databases and spreadsheets for the upcoming budget hearings.
  • There may be several County Council appointments to boards and commissions, including the Parks Board, Bloomington Economic Development Commission, Monroe County Women’s Commission, and Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals.

As with all County Council meetings, this meeting is open to the public. Public comment will be taken at the beginning of the meeting, as well as in conjunction with all items on the agenda. The meeting will also be broadcast live on CATS. Hope to see you there!

Karst Farm Greenway Under Construction

7 Aug

After 8 long years of waiting, construction on the Karst Farm Greenway, the north-south backbone of Monroe County’s active transportation network, has finally begun.

I have written about the Karst Farm Greenway previously here:  Karst Farm Greenway Plans Advance. That posting includes some additional maps.

Phase I of the Greenway begins at Karst Farm Park to the south, and ends at the intersection of Loesch Road and West Vernal Pike to the north. The northern end of Phase I is just east of Innovation Court, where the new Northwest YMCA is located. A multiuse trail already exists that will connect the Karst Farm Greenway to the YMCA.

Here is a map of Phase I:

Karst Farm Greenway Phase 1

Karst Farm Greenway Phase 1

 

I am also including some photos of the construction of the greenway. This is the northern end, at Loesch and Vernal Pike, where the construction began (working from north to south). The asphalt at the bottom of the picture is the existing trail that connects to the YMCA.

Dave O’Mara is the contractor.

 

Northern End of Phase I, on Vernal Pike East of Innovation Court

Northern End of Phase I, on Vernal Pike East of Innovation Court

The trail continues south along Loesch Road, where it then cuts over to the west, to connect with Wayne’s Lane.

Karst Farm Greenway Along Loesch Before Wayne's Lane

Karst Farm Greenway Along Loesch Before Wayne’s Lane

The trail then cuts through the woods to Wayne’s Lane.

 

Connection from Loesch Road to Wayne's Lane

Connection from Loesch Road to Wayne’s Lane

 

The trail runs right up to the end of Wayne’s Lane. In the picture you can see where it gets very close to the house of a friend of mine. She would definitely prefer that it not be quite so close to her house. I am hoping the county will be able to plant more of a visual buffer when the project is complete.

 

Trail at Wayne's Lane

Trail at Wayne’s Lane

Then, the trail parallels Wayne’s Lane, running to Profile Parkway.

Wayne's Lane to Profile Parkway

Wayne’s Lane to Profile Parkway

The trail passes right by the Indiana Center for the Life Sciences, on Profile Parkway.

 

Indiana Center for the Life Sciences

Indiana Center for the Life Sciences

Then the trail crosses and cuts west along Third Street, and then cuts back south along Cobblestone Street and then to Park Square Dr to West Gifford, to Endwright Road.

Trail Through W Gifford Road

Trail Through W Gifford Road

The trail runs down Endwright Road.

Trail Along Endwright Road

Trail Along Endwright Road

Finally, the trail turns from Endwright Road into Karst Farm Park, which will be the southern terminus of the Karst Farm Greenway.

Trail from Endwright Road Running Into Karst Farm Park

Trail from Endwright Road Running Into Karst Farm Park

All in all, this is great news for supporters of the trail!

Watch for more news on the Karst Farm Greenway soon, as the bid will likely be awarded in the next week or two for Phase IIA, which will go north along Loesch Road from Vernal Pike up to the railroad. I’ll post more news when that bid is awarded.

2015 Income Tax Projections for Monroe County Received – 2.8% Increase

4 Aug

On August 1st, the Indiana State Budget Agency released the estimates of local option income tax collection (County Option Income Tax, or COIT) for each county, to be distributed for the 2015 budget year. The projections show Monroe County’s collections of its 1% COIT at $26,909,660, an increase of $712,539, or 2.8%, over the collections for 2014. In addition, the special Monroe County Juvenile COIT, used to fund juvenile services, is projected to jump from $1,309,856 to $2,556,418, an increase of $1,246,562, resulting from a recent hike in the Juvenile COIT rate from 0.05% to 0.095% that takes effect October 1, 2014.

Income tax is one of the primary sources of revenue to fund non-highway general operations of County Government — property tax is the other. Along with the annual “cost of living” increase in the property tax levy (2.7% for 2015, see State Releases Assessed Value Growth Quotient for Local Governments), the annual certified local option income tax collection is one of the most carefully-watched numbers in local government, since those two numbers determine to a large degree what the budgets of local units of government look like for the ensuing year.

The COIT collections are important not only because of their importance  to local governments as a source of revenue, but also because they serve as a barometer of the local economy (albeit a bit lagged). The following chart shows the overall COIT collections (not counting the Juvenile COIT) from 2008 to the current projection for 2015 in Monroe County. As the chart illustrates, our COIT, and therefore the income of local residents, has been going up relatively slowly but steadily since 2011, after a relatively sharp plummet from 2010-2011.

Monroe County Option Income Tax 2008-2015

Monroe County Option Income Tax 2008-2015

The income tax numbers that were just released are only projections; the state is required to release the official income tax certification before October 1. However, in the past the official September certifications have not differed from the August projections significantly. In fact, the income taxes to be paid out for 2015 (local units of government receive approximately equal monthly payments throughout 2015) have actually already been collected from Monroe County residents during the period of July 1, 2013-June 30, 2014.

The $26,909,660 projected for Monroe County for 2015 will be divided among all of the local units of government in Monroe County that receive COIT: Monroe County Government, the City of Bloomington, the towns of Stinesville and Ellettsville, the Monroe County Public Library, Perry Clear Creek Fire Protection District, and all of the township governments. The total income tax for Monroe County is divided up among all of these local units of government; each unit’s share — called Certified Shares — is determined roughly in proportion to each unit’s property tax levy as a fraction of the whole (with an adjustment for new debt, so that taking on debt doesn’t entitle a governmental unit to a higher proportion of the income tax). This distribution of the total COIT among the various local units of government has not yet been released.

All in all, the COIT projections are good news for local governments; although we are not seeing the sharp annual increases that we did before the recession hit, we are seeing another year of modest but steady growth. Good for the local economy, good for residents of Monroe County who, on average, are earning more, and good for the local units of government tasked with serving the local residents.

For reference, I have written about local option income taxes in Monroe County several times in the past:

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