Proposed 2017 Monroe County Budget

30 Aug

2016 County Council MembersAs I mentioned earlier today, Monroe County begins its annual hearings  for the 2017 budget tonight at 5PM. Below are the proposed budgets and tax levies that have been advertised for consideration. (*)

Each fund is listed separately. Money from each fund generally can’t be intermingled (with a few exceptions). The Budget Estimate column is the total estimated budget for that fund for 2017. The Maximum Levy column is the maximum amount of property taxes that can be  collected from this fund. Current Tax Levy is the 2016 property tax levy for the fund. Funds that have a 0 in the levy columns are supported by sources of funds other than property tax, including income taxes, fees for service, fines, hotel bed taxes, etc.

The only exceptions are the three Economic Development funds — Westside, 46 Corridor, and Fullerton Pike. These are the three county tax increment finance (TIF) districts, and so the revenues collected are property taxes — however the money that goes into the TIF  districts are property taxes that otherwise would go into other units and funds — the county general, townships, etc.

The other thing to note is that the actual budgets and property tax levies that get adopted will be at or below these advertised budgets and levies. The Council is only allowed to reduce budgets during budget hearings, not increase them — hence the standard practice of “advertising high” to give the Council some flexibility during budget hearings.

The total budget advertised across all funds is $73,716,871. By comparison, the actual budget adopted in 2016 was $63,165,714. I would anticipate that the advertised $73M will be brought down during budget hearings.

The largest change in this budget from previous years is the inclusion of the budget for the Public Safety Local Option Income Tax (PS-LOIT), which is advertised at $3,751,926, well over the revenue that the PS-LOIT would actually generate. In addition, because of procedural issues that I don’t have time right now to get into detail on, the PS-LOIT for 2017 has not actually been adopted or approved by the state. The Council will have to be very cautious about budgeting for this fund, and any decisions made will be contingent upon final approval by the state of the PS-LOIT.

Advertised 2017 Monroe County Budget and Levies:

Fund Name Budget Estimate Maximum Levy Current Tax Levy
0101-GENERAL $34,554,828 $17,087,500 $16,388,259
0102-ELECTION/REGISTRATION $493,839 $0 $0
0124-2015 REASSESSMENT $721,063 $650,000 $495,413
0181-DEBT PAYMENT $1,009,000 $1,009,000 $1,413,578
0182-BOND #2 $2,040,000 $2,040,000 $1,908,991
0183-BOND #3 $1,030,000 $1,515,000 $0
0616-CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU $1,979,937 $0 $0
0702-HIGHWAY $5,464,930 $0 $0
0706-LOCAL ROAD & STREET $2,087,050 $0 $0
0790-CUMULATIVE BRIDGE $489,632 $1,406,973 $1,406,973
0801-HEALTH $1,242,199 $535,000 $535,046
1310-PARK NONREVERTING – CAPITAL $60,000 $0 $0
2002-COUNTY FAIR $105,270 $105,000 $85,872
2102-AVIATION/AIRPORT $957,490 $500,000 $429,358
2391-CUMULATIVE CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT $2,922,088 $2,510,092 $2,173,211
9500-Extradition $7,691 $0 $0
9501-Surveyor’s Corner $18,230 $0 $0
9502-County Per Diems $46,250 $0 $0
9503-Monroe County E-911 $929,606 $0 $0
9504-Convention Center Debt $636,000 $0 $0
9505-Auditor’s Ineligible Deductions $29,500 $0 $0
9506-Juvenile Facility COIT $2,697,147 $0 $0
9507-Juvenile Services Non-reverting $0 $0 $0
9508-Jury Pay $14,500 $0 $0
9509-Juvenile Probation $18,883 $0 $0
9510-Probation User Fees-Adult $410,478 $0 $0
9511-Project Income-Job Release $737,249 $0 $0
9512-Supplemental Public Defender Fee $923,845 $0 $0
9513-Clerk’s Perpetuation $111,913 $0 $0
9514-Diversion User Fees $476,176 $0 $0
9515-Court Alcohol/Drug Svcs Fees $367,706 $0 $0
9516-Health Maintenance $72,672 $0 $0
9517-Emergency Plan and Right To Know $15,900 $0 $0
9518-Stormwater Management $1,576,324 $0 $0
9519-County Corrections/Misdemeanant $80,518 $0 $0
9520-County Elected Officials Training $30,000 $0 $0
9521-Alternative Dispute Resolution $21,000 $0 $0
9522-County Assessor/R.E. Disclosure $50,765 $0 $0
9523-Convention/Visitors Capital Imp/Maint $100,000 $0 $0
9524-County Offender Transportation $3,000 $0 $0
9525-Health Tobacco Cessation $54,416 $0 $0
9526-Problem Solving Court $35,124 $0 $0
9527-Westside Economic Development $1,999,166 $0 $0
9528-46 Corridor Economic Development $258,775 $0 $0
9529-Fullerton Pike Economic Development $1,581,894 $0 $0
9530-Plat Book $0 $0 $0
9531-Convention Center Revenue $577,688 $0 $0
9532-Cable Franchise Fees $714,982 $0 $0
9533-Showers Building Operating $204,721 $0 $0
9544-Identification Security Protection $5,500 $0 $0
9599-Public Safety LOIT $3,751,926 $0 $0
Totals $73,716,871 $27,358,565 $24,836,701

(*) This chart was adapted from our official advertisement, which can be found here: http://budgetnotices.in.gov/ReportMaster.aspx?uid=2533&yr=2017&mode=ALL

 

 

2017 Monroe County Budget Hearings Begin Tonight

30 Aug

2016 County Council MembersDear readers, I apologize for the long gap in postings here. Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Now that budget hearings are here, I’ll try to make a better effort.

Tonight is the first night of budget hearings for the Monroe County 2017 budget.

The full schedule for budget hearings is as follows:

  • Tuesday–August 30th, 2016 5:00 – 9:00 pm: County Commissioners, Veterans’ Affairs, Health, Solid Waste Management, Building Commission
  • Wednesday–August 31st, 2016 5:00 – 9:00 pm: Clerk (including Election Board), Parks, Recorder, Emergency Management, County Fair, Prosecutor, Coroner, Perry-Clear Creek Fire Protection District
  • Tuesday–September 6th, 2016 5:00 – 9:00 pm: Courts, Probation, Youth Services, Public Works/Highway (including Stormwater)
  • Monday–September 19th, 2016 5:00 – 9:00 pm: Tech Services, Extension, Weights and Measures, Sheriff, Correction Center, Assessor, Treasurer, Convention and Visitors
  • Wednesday-September 21St, 2016 5:00 – 9:00 pm: Human Resources, Planning, Legal, Aviation, Auditor, County Council
  • Thursday-September 22nd, 2016 5:00 – 9:00 pm: Public Defender, and multiple budgets considered for the new Public Safety Local Income Tax

During these times, the County Council will hear requests for the 2017 budget from county departments, and will vote on a proposed budget.

Following hearings, the budget will be formally adopted on October 11-12. At this time, tax rates and levies for county funds will also be adopted.

  • Tuesday–October 11th, 2016 5:30 – 9:00 pm(First Reading)
  • Wednesday–October 12th, 2016 5:30 – 9:00 pm

All budget hearings and adoption will be at the Nat U Hill room of the Monroe County Courthouse. All meetings are open to the public, and will be covered on CATS.

The official publication (Notice to Taxpayers) of the budget hearing and adoption notice is here:

http://budgetnotices.in.gov/ReportMaster.aspx?uid=2533&yr=2017&mode=ALL

 

 

Public Information Meetings Scheduled for Sample Road, Tapp & Rockport, Winslow & Henderson, Fullerton Pike

31 Jul

A lot of infrastructure project public meetings this month! To sum up, here are the upcoming public meetings:

  • Tapp and Rockport Road Intersection: Thursday, August 4, 2016, 4:30-6PM, Southern Hills Church of Christ (1030 W Country Club Dr)
  • Multiuse path along Winslow and Henderson: Wednesday, August 10, 2016, 6-7:30PM, City Hall Council Chambers
  • Fullerton Pike Phase 2: Thursday, August 18, 2016 at 6PM in the Nat U Hill Room of the Monroe County Courthouse.
  • Sample Road: Wednesday, August 24, 2016, 6PM, Maple Grove Christian Church (1503 W Simpson Chapel Rd)

Sample Road

Monroe County Government has scheduled a public information meeting on the Sample Road reconstruction project. The scope of the project goes from Old 37 at the east to Bottom Road at the west. The diagram below shows the extent to the project. The part in red represents the work being done to create a Sample Road interchange on I-69. As the diagram shows, there will be 3 roundabouts created as part of the interchange, which will be the northernmost access to I-69 in Monroe County. The interchange is expected to greatly increase the amount of traffic on Sample Road, necessitating the county reconstruction project.

Screenshot 2016-07-29 22.00.16

Sample Road Reconstruction Project

The meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 24, 2016, 6PM, at the Maple Grove Christian Church (1503 W Simpson Chapel Rd).

Tapp Road and Rockport Road Intersection

The City of Bloomington is holding a public meeting on its plans to reconstruct the Tapp Road/Rockport Road/Country Club Drive intersection, as well as add a new traffic signal to the current 4-way stop. The project will add left turn lanes, a multiuse path, a sidewalk, and slight realignment of the intersection. Initially, a roundabout was considered, but rejected for cost and environmental impact reasons.

The following map shows the extent of the project:

Screenshot 2016-07-31 06.42.59

Tapp Road and Rockport Road Intersection Project

The meeting will be held Thursday, August 4, 2016, 4:30-6PM, at the Southern Hills Church of Christ (1030 W Country Club Dr). More details about the project can be found on the project web site.

Winslow and Henderson Multiuse Path

The City of Bloomington is also holding a public meeting on its plans to build a multiuse trail along Winslow Rd and Henderson St. The project will also have significant impacts on vehicular traffic, as it is being proposed that northbound traffic on Walnut Street Pike will only be able to turn right (east) on Winslow Rd, not continue north or turn left (west) on Winslow.

Screenshot 2016-07-31 06.54.17

Winslow-Henderson Multiuse Path and Intersection Improvements

This project will construct a new multiuse path on East Winslow Road between South Walnut Street and South Henderson Street, a new multiuse path on South Henderson Street from East Winslow Road to approximately 650 feet north of East Winslow Road, and make intersection changes to the Winslow Rd intersection with Walnut Street Pike. More details about the project can be found at the project web site.

The public meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 10, 2016, 6-7:30PM, at City Hall Council Chambers.

Fullerton Pike Phase 2

This will come as a repeat to MoCoGov readers, but I wanted to include it with all of the other public meetings:

Monroe County Government has scheduled a public information meeting on Phase 2 of the Fullerton Pike project. Phase 2 goes from Walnut Street  at the east to just beyond Rogers Street at the west. Phase 1, which is scheduled for contract award on November 16, 2016, goes from Walnut Street Pike to Walnut Street.

The following diagram illustrates the approximate extent of the segments, and also identifies several landmarks to orient yourself.

Screenshot 2016-07-27 07.52.15

The meeting will be held on August 18, 2016 at 6:00 PM in the Nat U Hill Room of the Monroe County Courthouse.

Additional information about this major infrastructure project in Monroe County can be found here: Fullerton Pike Corridor.

 

Public Information Meeting Scheduled for Fullerton Pike Phase 2 Project

28 Jul

Monroe County Government has scheduled a public information meeting on Phase 2 of the Fullerton Pike project. Phase 2 goes from Walnut Street  at the east to just beyond Rogers Street at the west. Phase 1, which is scheduled for contract award on November 16, 2016, goes from Walnut Street Pike to Walnut Street.

The following diagram illustrates the approximate extent of the segments, and also identifies several landmarks to orient yourself.

Screenshot 2016-07-27 07.52.15

The meeting will be held on August 18, 2016 at 6:00 PM in the Nat U Hill Room of the Monroe County Courthouse.

Additional information about this major infrastructure project in Monroe County can be found here: Fullerton Pike Corridor.

 

Public Hearing for Public Safety Income Tax

22 May

2016 County Council MembersThe Monroe County Council will be holding a public hearing at our work session this Tuesday to consider an additional county-wide income tax rate of 0.25% to fund public safety expenses (the “public safety local option income tax” or PS-LOIT). The public hearing will be held on Tuesday, 2016-05-23 at 5:30 PM at the Nat U Hill room in the Monroe County Courthouse.

There is a lot to this issue, and I’ll try to cover all of the salient points as briefly as possible. I’m sure I will forget something important, however!

What is the Public Safety LOIT?

Currently, our local option income tax rate is 1.095%, made up of a 1% County Option Income Tax (COIT), which is shared among the county, the cities and towns, the townships, the public library, Bloomington Transit, and Perry-Clear Creek Fire Protection District. The remaining 0.095% is a Juvenile County Option Income Tax (J-COIT), which is earmarked for county juvenile services, including the Binkley House Youth Shelter, the Juvenile Court, and Juvenile Probation. The revenue generated by the new public safety LOIT would be shared between the County, the City of Bloomington, and the Towns of Ellettsville and Stinesville. In addition, the fire departments that serve the townships are able to request a share of the funding — more about this later.

What Would the Money be Used For?

Screenshot 2016-05-21 21.41.05The revenue is statutorily earmarked for public safety, which includes pretty much what you would think it does: police/law enforcement, fire protection, emergency ambulance, emergency medical services, emergency action, probation, community corrections, juvenile detention, jail, 911 communications systems, medical and health expenses for inmates, and police and fire pensions. More specifics on what expenses are permitted can be found in the enabling statute: Public Safety Tax IN CODE.

The discussion about the public safety LOIT here in Monroe County was initially sparked by discussions about putting the county’s unified 911 dispatch center on firmer footing. The operations of the dispatch center is funded through a mixture of the E-911 tax on phone service (currently $1/month for wireless and landline phone service and $1/transaction for prepaid wireless) and Monroe County and City of Bloomington general fund revenues. In 2015, Monroe County spent $291K out of its general funds for the dispatch center, and the City of Bloomington spent $1.14M. Only $574K came from E-911 taxes — an amount that is likely to either remain flat or decline. Neither the Town of Ellettsville nor any of the township fire departments currently pay directly for the operations of the dispatch center.

The enabling statute for the public safety LOIT specifically allows a percentage of the revenue to be earmarked “off the top” (i.e., before the rest is given to Monroe County, the City of Bloomington, and the Towns of Ellettsville and Stinesville. The current proposal is for 30% of the revenue to be earmarked for the operations of the dispatch center.

IMG_4350

Monroe County 911 Dispatch Center

However, while the needs of the dispatch center sparked the initial discussion,  all of the public safety providers in the county have substantial long and short-term unmet demands that this additional revenue could help address. The City of Bloomington administration has said that replacing aging vehicles and capital equipment (fire and police) would be their top priority for the funding.

While we as a County Council have not yet discussed our priorities as a body, previous discussions have identified both additional police officers and a community corrections center/work release center as very high priorities. The need for additional community corrections capacity in particular is necessitated by recent changes in the state law that push the responsibility for lower-level felons to counties. This is an important topic that deserves its own detailed discussion. And our sheriff’s deputies are spread far too thin out in the county. Adding additional deputies is a particularly high and urgent priority for me.

In a state that makes it nearly impossible for local governments to raise revenues to meet the demands and costs of service, this LOIT may represent our only opportunity for our community to raise revenue for critical public safety needs.

 

How Much Revenue Would the Public Safety LOIT Raise?

The statute allows for an income rate of up to 0.25% to be adopted. The current proposal is to adopt the maximum of 0.25%, and earmark 30% for the dispatch center. Using 2016 county option income tax receipts to estimate. the LOIT would bring in approximately $6.96M annually. Of course, as this is an income tax, the actual receipts depend on the income earned by Monroe County residents, and thus could go up or down.

If the proposal for 30% for dispatch is adopted, the dispatch center would receive approximately $2.1M annually. Combined with the E-911 tax on phones, this would fully fund the dispatch center, eliminating the need for the county and city to subsidize the dispatch center out of their respective general funds. The ordinance that would impose this tax makes it easy to change the 30% number, depending on the actual budget requirements of the dispatch center. This topic may see some debate during the Council’s public hearing.

After the $2.1M for dispatch is deducted, approximately $4.87M would be available for distribution to the county and the three cities and towns. Although the public safety tax is an income tax, revenue is distributed according to a formula based on the relative property tax footprints of each unit. My estimates are as follows:

Screenshot 2016-05-21 22.53.59

So the county would receive approximately additional revenue $2.3M for public safety expenses, as well as the approximately $300K that it currently spends on the dispatch center that it would no longer need to spend.

Who Passes the Public Safety LOIT?

Here it gets a little weird. The body that is empowered to pass the public safety LOIT (as well as other local option income taxes specifically for counties that have adopted the County Option Income Tax (COIT) is a little-known institution called the County Income Tax Council.

The County Income Tax Council is not a regular deliberative body with individual members. Instead, it is  a “virtual council” that rarely, if ever meets. It is defined by statute as follows:

Every county income tax council has a total of one hundred (100) votes. Every member of the county income tax council is allocated a percentage of the total one hundred (100) votes that may be cast. The percentage that a city or town is allocated for a year equals the same percentage that the population of the city or town bears to the population of the county. The percentage that the county is allocated for a year equals the same percentage that the population of all areas in the county not located in a city or town bears to the population of the county. On or before January 1 of each year, the county auditor shall certify to each member of the county income tax council the number of votes, rounded to the nearest one hundredth (0.01), it has for that year. (IC 6-3.5-6-3)

In other words, this council is made up not of individuals, but of fiscal bodies of other units of government.

In Monroe County, the county income tax council is thereby made up of the fiscal bodies of the county (the Monroe County Council) and the fiscal bodies of each of the municipalities in the county — the Bloomington City Council, the Ellettsville Town Council, and the Stinesville Town Council.  As described above, the votes are allocated amongst these bodies in proportion to their populations (and the county is given the population only of the unincorporated areas). For 2016, this means that each body gets the following “votes” on the income tax council:

  • Monroe County Council: 36 votes
  • Bloomington City Council: 59 votes
  • Ellettsville Town Council: 5 votes
  • Stinesville Town Council: 0 votes

Poor Stinesville winds up rounding down to 0!

All votes are cast by the body as a whole — in other words, all of the Bloomington City Council votes as a single bloc, Monroe County Council as a single bloc, etc.

What is notable about this is that the Bloomington City Council has a simple majority of votes on the income tax council — therefore, it has the power to pass, or deny, taxes that apply to the entire county. The rest of the votes of the bodies on the income tax council, including those of the County Council, are essentially symbolic. I have criticized this arrangement in the past as coming close to taxation without representation: The Phantom Council and Personal Property Taxes.

But What About the Fire Departments?

As I mentioned before, any public safety LOIT revenues not earmarked for the dispatch center get divided up among the County and the three cities and towns. However, while fire protection within the city or town limits is the responsibility of the respective cities and towns, and thus the city or town can simply spend some or all of its share of the revenues on their fire departments, fire protection outside of the city/town limits is NOT funded by county government.

Screenshot 2016-05-21 21.44.44Instead, fire protection is funded by property taxes (and some share of income taxes) at the township level, unless the townships have  combined their fire protection responsibilities into a fire protection district or fire territory. Monroe County has one fire protection district (Perry-Clear Creek Fire Protection District, which includes Perry Township and Clear Creek Township) and is in the process of creating a fire territory (Northern Monroe Fire Territory, which includes Bloomington Township and Washington Township). However, the Northern Monroe Fire Territory will not be established in time for the purposes of the public safety LOIT this year.

Indian Creek, Bean Blossom, Benton, Van Buren, and Bloomington Township all have fire departments. The City of Bloomington Fire Department by contract provides fire protection to Salt Creek and Polk Townships. The Ellettsville Fire Department provides fire protection to Richland Township.

So why does this all matter? The public safety LOIT statute allows fire departments providing service to political subdivisions not already entitled to a distribution of public safety LOIT revenues (i.e., the fire departments serving the townships) to request funding from the income tax council on an annual basis for the subsequent year.

In practice, this means requesting funding from the Bloomington City Council, since they have the majority of votes on the income tax council. So the township fire departments are requesting funding from the Bloomington City Council, and the Bloomington City Council does not represent a single resident served by these township fire departments. Yet another problem with the whole concept of the income tax council! Incidentally, there was a bill in the recently-concluded session of the general assembly that would have entitled the townships to a distribution from the public safety LOIT as well as the cities and towns — however, it didn’t pass.

In any case, by statute, the fire departments must make their requests for funding to the income tax council before July 1 for the subsequent year. The decision by the income tax council must be made before September 1. Therefore, the tax itself would need to be established before July 1, in order for the fire departments to have any revenue in place for the 2017 budget.

So How Much Is This Going To Cost You?

Currently the Monroe County local option income tax rate is 1.095%. To see how this compares to other counties, see 2016 Local Income Tax Rates — How Does Monroe County Compare? If this public safety LOIT passes, our rate will be 1.345%. It would cost a taxpayer with an adjusted gross income of $50,000 an additional $125/year.

Public Hearing

The statute that allows this public safety LOIT can be found here: Public Safety Tax IN CODE. Here is the County Council packet that includes the resolution that will be considered, that casts the County’s votes on the income tax council in favor of establishing the public safety LOIT: Council_Work_Session_Packet_20160524. The packet also includes a resolution that the County Council will consider that clarifies some procedures regarding any requests by fire departments for funding for service in the townships.

As far as the process goes: the Town of Ellettsville will be taking their final vote on a resolution casting its votes on the income tax council in favor of the public safety LOIT proposal tomorrow evening, Monday, May 23rd. The Monroe County Council will be holding our public hearing Tuesday, May 24th on our resolution for the LOIT. And the Bloomington City Council is scheduled to vote on its resolution (the one that matters!) on June 1st.

 

Hope to see members of the public at the public hearing on Tuesday. And if you have any comments or questions, please feel free to send them to me. I hope I’ve explained the gist of the proposal here — but I’m sure there will be additional questions.

I-69 Section 5 Company Sold to Canadian Pension Fund Manager

17 May

In today’s global finance news, the highway in Bloomington, Indiana that was being built by a Spanish corporation with Netherlands in its name is now owned by a Canadian pension giant.

Isolux Infrastructure Netherlands B.V., the equity member of I-69 Development Partners, the company hired to design, build, operate, maintain, and finance the construction of I-69 Section 5 (from south of Bloomington to Morgan County), has been sold to Public Sector Pension Investment Board (“PSP Investments”), a large pension investment manager with over $112B  in assets under management. Isolux Infrastructure was formerly part of Grupo Isolux Corsan.

The newly acquired business will be called ROADIS.

Word is that all of the subcontractors have now been paid, and it is obvious around town that construction on I-69 Section 5 has resumed in a big way!

IMG_4732

Subcontractors working on Vernal Pike

The full press release on the acquisition can be found here.

2016 Local Income Tax Rates — How Does Monroe County Compare?

17 Mar

WestsideBack in 2014, when Monroe County was considering a small increase in the Juvenile County Option Income Tax, I ran a comparison of Monroe County with the other 91 counties on overall income tax rates (Income Tax Rates in Indiana Counties — How Does Monroe County Compare?). Now that we are starting to hear some calls from public safety agencies for a public safety local option income tax (which would be passed by the Bloomington City Council, not the County Council, incidentally), I thought I’d re-run the comparisons using 2016 local option income tax rates.

Here is a table showing the total combined local option income tax rates for 2016 for each county in Indiana, along with each county’s percentile.

Screenshot 2016-03-17 07.26.43

2016 Local Option Income Tax Rates by County

Monroe is at the 24th percentile rank, which basically means that Monroe County’s income tax rates are in (near the top of) the bottom quarter. Put differently, 76% of Indiana counties have a higher income tax rate than Monroe County.

So how do we compare to our neighbor counties?

Screenshot 2016-03-17 07.31.47

2016 LOIT Rates for Monroe County Neighbors

Monroe County currently has the lowest income tax rates of any of its neighbor counties.

Finally, how does Monroe County compare with its “peer” counties?

Screenshot 2016-03-17 07.35.43

2016 LOIT Rates for Monroe County Peer Counties

Obviously the definition of “peer” county is somewhat subjective, but these counties are ones that Monroe County is typically compared against, in terms of population, urbanization, demographics, etc.  In this comparison, we have the second-lowest income tax rates, second only to Vanderburgh County.

Data Source: Indiana Handbook of Taxes, Revenues, and Appropriations, Fiscal Year 2015

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