Public Transit Income Tax Advances in Indy

22 Feb

5858d1eb856ac-imageToday’s Indy Star reports that a proposal for a 0.25% local income tax in Marion County to support public transit expansion passed a key committee vote yesterday, sending the vote to the full City-County Council on February 27th:

http://www.indystar.com/story/news/local/marion-county/2017/02/21/marion-county-transit-tax-gets-committee-approval-heads-full-council/98200340/

Back in November, this tax increase to fund public transit passed in a referendum handily by 59.3% to 41.7%.

In the past we have discussed a potential income tax dedicated to public transit expansion here in Monroe County. The revenues would be shared between Bloomington Transit and Rural Transit, and would potentially fund both expansion of transit within the existing city boundaries (both in terms of additional routes and stops, and potentially more frequent service and/or Sunday service), as well as additional point to point service in the rural areas. Of course, the extent of city boundaries may change with a potential annexation, which could have a large impact on the services able to be provided by Rural Transit (a topic for a different post).

Such a tax in Monroe County would require additional state legislation. Senator Mark Stoops has introduced several pieces of legislation (and has been for several years) that would give Monroe County the ability to (but not require it to) pass an income tax between 0.1% and 0.25% to fund transit expansion. Senator Stoops’ proposed bills for the 2017 session are:

  • Senate Bill 371, which is specific to Monroe County
  • Senate Bill 391, which applies to all counties except those that already have the authority under existing legislation

Neither of these bills would require a referendum/public question. Also, it appears so far that neither of these bills will receive a committee hearing this session.

This is where I am interested in hearing from Monroe County constituents. What do you think about a potential increase in income tax dedicated to public transit expansion? Please let me hear your thoughts.

Just for reference, here are our existing local income taxes:

  • Expenditure – Certified Shares (all-purpose local income tax, distributed county, cities and towns, townships, public library, fire protection districts, Bloomington Transit): 0.9482%
  • Expenditure – Public Safety (distributed to the county, Bloomington, Ellettsville, and Stinesville): 0.2500%
  • Property Tax Relief (replaces property tax): 0.0518%
  • Special Purpose (Juvenile services): 0.095%
  • Total Income Tax Rate: 1.345%

 

 

2017 Budget Order, Tax Rates, and Tax Levies Approved for Monroe County

12 Feb
Monroe County Courthouse at Night

Monroe County Courthouse at Night

Today Monroe County received its budget order for 2017 from the state, which includes:

  • The budgets for all taxing units (i.e., county, cities and towns, school districts, townships, public library, special units)
  • The property tax levies and tax rates for all taxing units
  • The property tax rates for each taxing district (i.e., the tax rates that actually affect each property owner)

Here is a chart showing the 2017 property tax rates by taxing district (along with the 2013-2016 rates for comparison):

screenshot-2017-02-12-19-48-06

As usual, the Ellettsville districts (the parts of Richland and Bean Blossom Townships within the incorporated boundary of the town of Ellettsville) have the highest tax rates in the County (the Bloomington City – Richland Township district is a very tiny, commercial-only area), with the Bloomington rates next in line.

However, in a departure from previous years, Washington Township no longer has the lowest property rates (that honor now belongs to Indian Creek Township). In fact, both Washington Township and Bloomington Township (the part of Bloomington Township outside of the City of Bloomington) had substantial tax rate increases in 2017 because of the newly established Northern Monroe Fire Territory.

The full budget order can be found here: monroe-county-2017-certified-budget-order

Indiana 2017 Local Income Tax Rates: Where Does Monroe County Stand?

23 Nov
Monroe County Courthouse at Night

Monroe County Courthouse at Night

The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance just released the final 2017 certified distributions and rates of local income taxes for Indiana counties. Local income taxes are what used to be called COIT, LOIT, CAGIT, CEDIT, etc., before a new law that went into effect in 2016 that simplifies local income taxation. All local income taxes are now simply referred to as Local Income Taxes (LIT). The full report from DLGF is available here: 2017_certification_calculations.

Under the new system, there are essentially 3 broad categories of local income tax rates: expenditure, property tax relief, and special purpose. Expenditure rates are there to raise funds for local government expenditures. Property tax relief rates use the money raised from income to offset property taxes. Note that this does not necessarily mean that taxpayers will see lower property taxes — these property tax relief rates are often used in communities where the constitutional circuit breakers (tax caps) have lowered property tax revenues. So the property tax relief rate would simply replace property tax revenue that had been lost through the tax caps; since the taxpayers in this case  would already be  at the circuit breaker, they wouldn’t necessarily actually see lower property taxes. Thus in reality the property tax relief rate may generate expenditure revenue as well. Finally, the special purpose rates are used for a variety of purposes, all of which require special legislation. Our local example is Monroe County’s Juvenile County Option Income Tax (JCOIT), a 0.0950% income tax that supports juvenile services, including the Binkley House Youth Shelter, juvenile probation, and the juvenile courts. Other examples include jail and juvenile facilities for a number of counties, library property tax replacement for Hancock County,  and courthouse renovation and maintenance and firefighting equipment in Randolph County.

Expenditure rates themselves are divided into 3 “buckets”: certified shares, public safety, and economic development. Certified shares are divided  up among all civil taxing units in a County (civil taxing units include the county, any municipalities, townships, fire protection districts, and public libraries), and the revenue can be used for any lawful purpose of the local unit government. Revenues from the public safety rates are distributed to the county and any municipalities in the county, and can only be used for public safety purposes (including police, jail, probation, fire, and EMT). Revenues from economic development rates are distributed to the county and any municipalities in the county, and can be used for a variety of economic development purposes, as well as any other expenses of the local unit of government.

Monroe County’s local income tax (LIT) rates are as follows for 2017:

  • Expenditure – Certified Shares: 0.9482%
  • Expenditure – Public Safety: 0.2500%
  • Expenditure – Economic Development: 0%
  • Property Tax Relief: 0.0518%
  • Special Purpose: 0.095%
  • Total Income Tax Rate: 1.345%

So how does Monroe County’s income tax rate of 1.345% stack up against other counties? I took the data from the DLGF and ranked counties by total income tax rate:

County Name Total 2017 LIT Rate Rank
Pulaski 3.3800% 1
Wabash 2.9000% 2
Jasper 2.8640% 3
Morgan 2.7200% 4
Parke 2.6500% 5
Tipton2 2.6000% 6
Miami 2.5400% 7
Brown 2.5234% 8
Jennings 2.5000% 9
Cass 2.5000% 9
Jay 2.4500% 11
Fayette 2.3700% 12
Randolph 2.2500% 13
Clay 2.2500% 13
Grant 2.2500% 13
Warren 2.1200% 16
Rush 2.1000% 17
Wells 2.1000% 17
Jackson 2.1000% 17
Montgomery 2.1000% 17
Elkhart 2.0000% 21
Clark 2.0000% 21
Clinton 2.0000% 21
DeKalb 2.0000% 21
Washington 2.0000% 21
Fulton 1.9300% 26
Perry 1.8100% 27
Benton 1.7900% 28
Steuben 1.7900% 28
Marion 1.7700% 30
Union 1.7500% 31
Daviess 1.7500% 31
Huntington 1.7500% 31
Noble 1.7500% 31
Putnam 1.7500% 31
Lawrence 1.7500% 31
Madison 1.7500% 31
St. Joseph 1.7500% 31
Starke 1.7100% 39
Carroll 1.7039% 40
Hancock 1.7000% 41
Howard 1.6500% 42
Adams 1.6240% 43
Fountain 1.5500% 44
Blackford 1.5000% 45
Franklin 1.5000% 45
Shelby 1.5000% 45
Wayne 1.5000% 45
Boone 1.5000% 45
Hendricks 1.5000% 45
Delaware 1.5000% 45
Henry 1.5000% 45
Martin 1.5000% 45
Lake 1.5000% 45
Whitley 1.4829% 55
Scott 1.4100% 56
LaGrange 1.4000% 57
Ripley 1.3800% 58
Allen 1.3500% 59
Monroe 1.3450% 60
Decatur 1.3300% 61
White 1.3200% 62
Owen 1.3000% 63
Bartholomew 1.2500% 64
Greene 1.2500% 64
Marshall 1.2500% 64
Ohio 1.2500% 64
Orange 1.2500% 64
Vigo 1.2500% 64
Floyd 1.1500% 70
Tippecanoe 1.1000% 71
Crawford 1.0000% 72
Dubois 1.0000% 72
Hamilton 1.0000% 72
Harrison 1.0000% 72
Johnson 1.0000% 72
Knox 1.0000% 72
Kosciusko 1.0000% 72
Newton 1.0000% 72
Switzerland 1.0000% 72
Posey 1.0000% 72
Vanderburgh 1.0000% 72
LaPorte 0.9500% 83
Spencer 0.8000% 84
Pike 0.7500% 85
Gibson 0.7000% 86
Dearborn 0.6000% 87
Porter 0.5000% 88
Warrick 0.5000% 88
Jefferson 0.3500% 90
Sullivan 0.3000% 91
Vermillion 0.2000% 92

As this table shows, Monroe County ranks 60th in overall income tax rates in Indiana, out of 92 counties. This puts us essentially at the top of the bottom third of Indiana counties in terms of overall income tax rate.

One concern with this ranking methodology that has been raised is that some of these local income taxes have been passed for property tax relief, and since these taxes offset property taxes, the property tax relief taxes really shouldn’t “count” against a county in its overall income tax rate for the purposes of comparison. I don’t necessarily agree with this logic, since, as I mentioned above, property tax relief rates don’t necessarily actually give the taxpayers any “relief”, and are instead just used to offset losses to local government from the tax caps. But nonetheless, in the following table I eliminated the property tax relief rates from the calculation, and re-ranked counties.

County Name Revenue Total Revenue Rank
Tipton 2.4000% 1
Jennings 2.2500% 2
Pulaski 2.2000% 3
Parke 2.1500% 4
Brown 2.0234% 5
Jasper 2.0140% 6
Rush 2.0100% 7
Wabash 1.9000% 8
Jay 1.8500% 9
Warren 1.8000% 10
Randolph 1.7500% 11
Elkhart 1.7500% 11
Union 1.7500% 11
Perry 1.7254% 14
Marion 1.7193% 15
Morgan 1.7180% 16
Wells 1.7000% 17
Starke 1.6500% 18
Jackson 1.6000% 19
Carroll 1.5039% 20
Cass 1.5000% 21
Clay 1.5000% 21
Clark 1.5000% 21
Clinton 1.5000% 21
DeKalb 1.5000% 21
Washington 1.5000% 21
Benton 1.5000% 21
Steuben 1.5000% 21
Daviess 1.5000% 21
Huntington 1.5000% 21
Noble 1.5000% 21
Putnam 1.5000% 21
Blackford 1.5000% 21
Franklin 1.5000% 21
Shelby 1.5000% 21
Wayne 1.5000% 21
Boone 1.5000% 37
Miami 1.4796% 38
Fulton 1.4500% 39
Hancock 1.4500% 39
Fountain 1.4500% 39
Whitley 1.4500% 39
Hendricks 1.3500% 43
Owen 1.3000% 44
Monroe 1.2932% 45
Fayette 1.2500% 46
Grant 1.2500% 46
Lawrence 1.2500% 46
Madison 1.2500% 46
Adams 1.2500% 46
Delaware 1.2500% 46
Henry 1.2500% 46
Martin 1.2500% 46
Scott 1.2500% 46
LaGrange 1.2500% 46
Ripley 1.2500% 46
Decatur 1.2500% 46
White 1.2500% 46
Bartholomew 1.2500% 46
Greene 1.2500% 46
Marshall 1.2500% 46
Ohio 1.2500% 46
Orange 1.2500% 46
Vigo 1.2500% 46
Howard 1.1500% 65
St. Joseph 1.1496% 66
Floyd 1.0500% 67
Montgomery 1.0000% 68
Crawford 1.0000% 68
Dubois 1.0000% 68
Hamilton 1.0000% 68
Harrison 1.0000% 68
Johnson 1.0000% 68
Knox 1.0000% 68
Kosciusko 1.0000% 68
Newton 1.0000% 68
Switzerland 1.0000% 68
Allen 0.9821% 78
Tippecanoe 0.9589% 79
LaPorte 0.9500% 80
Posey 0.9440% 81
Vanderburgh 0.9035% 82
Spencer 0.7611% 83
Pike 0.7500% 84
Gibson 0.7000% 85
Dearborn 0.6000% 86
Lake 0.5000% 87
Porter 0.5000% 87
Warrick 0.5000% 87
Jefferson 0.3500% 90
Sullivan 0.3000% 91
Vermillion 0.2000% 92

From this ranking, excluding property tax relief income tax rates, Monroe County comes out at 45, right in the middle of Indiana counties. So depending on how you look at it, Monroe County is right in the middle or atop the bottom third of Indiana counties in terms of income taxes.

There  is a lot more to explore with this data. Next I will focus more specifically on our neighbor counties.

 

 

I-69 Section 5 Winterization Plans

9 Nov
I-69 Vernal Pike

I-69 Vernal Pike

MoCoGov readers have probably noticed that I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus from blog posting for the election. Now that that awful thing is behind us, I’ll get back to writing more frequently. And today’s news gives me a chance to post on a subject that never fails to cheer me up — road construction!!

I-69 Development Partners provided their plans for winterization of Section 5 of I-69 last week at the MPO Policy Committee meeting. I will admit that the committee was by and large underwhelmed, and had hoped for a much more detailed schedule. I don’t doubt that they (we) will continue to push for such. But at least this plan gives motorists some idea of how the road will be configured for the winter.

Per their “Winter safety plan”, I-69 Development Partners will:

They say that these items will be completed by the end of the year, with a “few work items carrying over into early January if the weather holds.”

The single-lane traffic at the Bryant’s Creek Bridge is probably the biggest concern with the winterization plan. Since we have not been provided with a more detailed schedule yet, it isn’t clear how long this area of the road will be restricted.

Proposed Monroe County Budget, Tax Rates, and Levies for 2017

11 Oct

2016 County Council MembersEarlier today I posted that Monroe County budget adoption begins tonight at 5:30PM, but wasn’t able to post the proposed budgets, tax rates, and levies because of some glitches in the numbers. Now the final numbers are available that the Council will be considering tonight.

The first table shows the proposed budgets, property tax levies, and property tax rates (per $100 of net assessed value) for so-called controlled funds (funds that are reviewed by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance — DLGF).

Note that while the adopted budget and tax levies will be accurate, the tax rates to be adopted will be higher than the actual tax rates ultimately imposed. This is because the adopted tax rates use a conservative estimate of the total net assessed value (85% of last year’s value). So the actual tax rates will be lower than the rates to be adopted.

2017 Proposed Budgets, Tax Levies, and Tax Rates for Controlled Funds

2017 Proposed Budgets, Tax Levies, and Tax Rates for Controlled Funds

In addition to these controlled funds, the Council will adopt the budgets for a number of funds that are so-called home rule funds, in which the DLGF does not review the budget.

2017 Monroe County Home Rule Funds

2017 Monroe County Home Rule Funds

Revenue for these home-rule funds come from a variety of sources. The Juvenile Facility COIT and Public Safety LOIT funds both receive revenue from income taxes. Many others receive income from fees for service (Stormwater, Convention Center Revenue), fines and fees (Diversion User Fees, Court Alcohol/Drug Svcs Fees), and innkeeper’s tax (Convention Center Debt).

The council will hold a first reading on the above budgets, rates, and levies tonight at 5:30 PM in the Nat U Hill Room, and will hold the second reading and final vote tomorrow (Wednesday) at 5:30 PM, in the same location. Hope to see you there!

County Council to Adopt 2017 Budget Tuesday and Wednesday

11 Oct

2016 County Council MembersOn Tuesday (10/11/2016) and Wednesday (10/12/2016), the County Council will adopt Monroe County’s 2017 budget. Tuesday will feature first reading of the budget, including council discussion and public comment. Wednesday will feature final adoption of the budget. In addition to adopting the budget, the Council will also be adopting the 2017 property tax rates and levies, as well as the 2017 salary ordinance for county employees.

The Council is considering a $67,975,340 overall budget for 2017. This is spread across 51 different funds, the General Fund being the largest by a long shot, at $32,059,390.

There are a few numbers in the state Gateway system that are still being corrected this morning, so I’m not yet publishing the complete list of budgets and tax rates and levies (but will later this morning).

Here is the General Fund budget to be adopted by the Council tonight and tomorrow night:

Monroe County 2017 General Fund Budget for Adoption

Monroe County 2017 General Fund Budget for Adoption

Note: This chart is $2 off from the official Gateway numbers to be adopted, due to differences in rounding methodology, but it shows the budget in a more compact form than the official Gateway reports.

I’ll publish more numbers as they are available, including the proposed tax rates and levies, and the Public Safety Local Income Tax budget.

Budget Adoption begins tonight (Tuesday) at 5:30 PM in the Nat U Hill room of the Monroe County Courthouse. Public comment will be taken, and the meeting will be broadcast on CATS. The budget adoption meeting will be followed by a regular meeting of the Monroe County Council.

What Are the Spending Priorities of the County?

2 Sep
Monroe County Courthouse at Night

Monroe County Courthouse at Night

The Monroe County Council is in the middle of budget hearings for 2017, so it seems an ideal time to talk about what the county spends money on. It is almost a truism that budgets reflect priorities, and to some degree that is accurate. I’ve always struggled with representing the county budget, though, in a manner that actually does reflect county spending priorities, rather than the statutory requirements of various funding sources, grant availability, and so on. A better picture of spending priorities, in my mind, consists of those expenditures among which tradeoffs can be made, and I’ve included a chart of these expenditures by department below.

In order to do that, I included all of the budgets under the so-called “frozen levy“. In essence, these are the budgets that the County Council can make priority decisions. As an example, Monroe County’s total adopted budget was $63,165,714 in 2016. However, a substantial portion of this includes highway funds, which can’t be spent for any purpose other than roads. So although roads are a critical priority for county government, I didn’t include them in this table, because road funding can’t be traded off against any other funding. I also included voter registration and election costs because, although not actually part of the General Fund or the frozen levy, these functions are entirely dependent on cash that would otherwise go to the General Fund (or other funds in the frozen levy).

There is another very important caveat to these numbers: they reflect the operational costs of running county government. Capital items, with the one exception of the Cumulative Bridge Fund, which is included in this data, are almost entirely funded through other means, including the Cumulative Capital Development fund or bonds, both of which are supported by additional property tax levies.

So here is how Monroe County prioritizes tax revenues, based on the 2017 budget so far. Budget hearings are still ongoing, however, so these numbers can and will change as budgeting decisions are made.

Screenshot 2016-09-02 13.02.26

Snapshot of Monroe County 2017 budget requests for functions in the frozen levy, plus election and voter registration costs, midway through 2017 budget hearings, in descending order of budget amount