Archive | April, 2015

I-69 Section 5 Public Open House Tonight (Wed, 4/29/2015, 6:30-7:30PM)

29 Apr

I-69 Development Partners, the contractor hired to build I-69 Section 5 (the section from Bloomington to Martinsville) will be holding a public open house TONIGHT, from 6:30-7:30PM at the Holiday Inn at 1710 Kinser Pike. I’m surprised that this event has not received any publicity, as far as I can tell.

This is an opportunity to look at plans and scheduling, and ask questions.

I69

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Circuit Breaker (Tax Cap) Impacts for 2015 in Monroe County

16 Apr

The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance just released the report on circuit breaker impacts on local units of government for 2015. The report for Monroe County specifically can be found here.

The circuit breakers — also referred to as “tax caps” — refer to various statutory (and constitutional) limitations on the property tax responsibility of individual property taxpayers in Indiana. There are two types of circuit breakers: the 1%-2%-3% circuit breakers (which limit property tax liability to a certain percentage of assessed value) and the Over 65 circuit breakers (which limit property tax increases to lower-income seniors). I wrote about the circuit breakers for 2014 in more detail here and here.

As you can see in several of the charts below, 2015 saw a slight increase in the circuit breakers from 2014, compared to a substantial increase from 2013 to 2014. This is very welcome news to local units of government, many of whom were very concerned after the large increase in 2014.

The following table shows the amount of circuit breaker credits by circuit breaker type, by year, from 2010-2015.

Screenshot 2015-04-16 21.14.36

The following chart illustrates the same data graphically:

Screenshot 2015-04-16 21.26.35

One can easily make the following quick observations from these two charts:

  • Almost all of the increase in circuit breakers since 2011 come from the 1% (owner-occupied residences). This is not surprising, as Indiana’s property tax system is generally considered very favorable to homeowners (vs. other classes of property owners, such as businesses)
  • This means that our assessed values in Monroe County kept pace with property taxes
  • The circuit breakers for 2% (non-owner-occupied residential, agricultural, and long-term care facilities properties) and over 65 have been very stable over time (other than a dip in the 2% circuit breaker in 2013)
  • 2015 is the first year that Monroe County has seen any circuit breaker credits for 3% (commercial and industrial) properties — for a whopping total of $9
  • The overall increase in circuit breaker from 2014-2015 was very small, which will work to the benefit of local units of government (though not as good as a decrease, obviously!)

The following chart breaks down the impact of the 2015 circuit breakers by taxing unit.

Screenshot 2015-04-16 20.52.27

As this chart shows, only 3 units, Monroe County, City of Bloomington, and MCCSC saw circuit breaker increases of more than $10K. The Town of Ellettsville actually saw a $6702 decrease in its circuit breaker from 2014.

Summary of 2014-2015 Circuit Breaker Changes

  • County-Wide
    • Increase from $819,507 to $865,759
  • Monroe County Government
    • Increase from $153,018 to $164,157
  • County General
    • Increase from $111,920 to $120,905
  • Summary
    • Still an increase from 2014-2015 – but a very small increase\
    • Increased much less in 2015 than in 2014

Preview of Monroe County Council Meeting 2015-04-14

14 Apr
2014 Monroe County Council

2014 Monroe County Council

3:30PM Update: I just received a new agenda at 2PM that has one addition. The Council will be considering two resolutions related to non-discrimination. The new agenda is here: Council_Agenda_Amended_2015_04_14. The packet (above) hasn’t changed, and we have not yet received the text of either of these resolutions.

Original Posting: The packet and agenda for this Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Monroe County Council is now available: Council_Packet_2015_04_14. By the way — hopefully by next month we will have an updated photo of the Council that will include our newest member, Ryan Cobine!

This meeting looks like a long one! Here are some of the highlights:

  • The Prosecutor’s Office is requesting funding and approval to turn a part-time child support investigator into a full-time position. The costs of the position would be paid out of the General Fund and reimbursed around 2/3 by the federal Title IV-D program
  • The Highway Department is requesting an appropriation of $1,248,000 for the County’s Cumulative Bridge program for 2015. The Cumulative Bridge program, which supports all construction, maintenance, and repair of bridges not on state roads in the county, is funded by a property tax levy. By convention, the Cumulative Bridge appropriation for bridge projects for each year is not done during budget hearings, but instead is done through a separate request for an additional appropriation. The 2015 Cumulative Bridge detailed request, including specifics on the condition of Monroe County’s bridges, can be found here: 2015 Cumulative Bridge Program.
  • The Commissioners are requesting an appropriation of $968,000 (it was intentionally advertised high at $995K) for the prepayment of 10 years of software maintenance for the Spillman Computer-Aided Dispatch/Records Management System (CAD-RMS) software used by the 911 Dispatch Center.
    • The County Commissioners have already signed a contract for the 10-year agreement.
    • The appropriation requests have been advertised so that the council can take the funds out of either the General Fund, the Rainy Day fund, or some combination of the two.
    • This item has been somewhat controversial primarily because a 10-year agreement is unusual in local government in Indiana, and will probably engender heightened scrutiny by the State Board of Accounts. On the other hand, the agreement is highly fiscally favorable. The vendor (Spillman) has agreed to freeze the annual maintenance payment for the entire period of the 10 year agreement (as opposed to their usual 7% annual escalation), and provide 2 of the 10 years free. In addition, the payments start after 10 years at what they would have been in 2013. This results in an inflation-adjusted savings of around $475K over the 10 year period, and around $1.5M over a 20 year period.
    • The costs will be split 50-50 between the City of Bloomington and Monroe County, based on the current interlocal agreement between the two parties, which is just now being renegotiated. It is likely that the County will seek some additional compensation (in the form of interest) from the City for funding the prepaying up front (essentially loaning money to the City).
  • The Commissioners are also requesting an additional appropriation of $75,000 for the contract that they signed with the accounting firm Hartman and Williams to sort out the reconciling problems in the Treasurer’s Office. This is in addition to $75,000 that has already been spent on this effort.

In addition, the Council will be appropriating funds received from several grants, including: Homeland Security training grant, light tower trailer for emergency management, and Title X family planning funds to operate our Futures Family Planning Clinic for an additional year.

As always, the meeting is open to the public, and will be held tonight at 5:30 in the Nat U Hill room of the Monroe County Courthouse, and it will be broadcast on CATS. Public comment will be taken. Hope to see you there!

Indy Star Article Asks if Local Ordinances Really Protect LGBT Residents — And Points Out Caveats in Bloomington Ordinance

6 Apr

Good article in yesterday’s Indy Star following the intense attention to RFRA and its possible effects: Do local laws really protect rights of LGBT Hoosiers?

The second paragraph of the article summarizes its conclusions:

“But even though Marion County and 10 other Hoosier communities already have local nondiscrimination ordinances that include sexual orientation, experts say such protections can be so weak that they are virtually unenforceable.”

The article points out the communities that have some local regulations that protect LGBT residents:

  • Indianapolis, Marion County, West Lafayette, New Albany, South Bend, Evansville, Bloomington, and Monroe County all have local ordinances that protect both sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Terre Haute, Michigan City, Lafayette, and Tippecanoe County have local ordinances that protect sexual orientation but not gender identity

The upshot of all of this discussion is that protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity must be added to statute in order to ensure legal enforceability of these protections — and we need to continue to press our representatives in Indianapolis to do the right thing. However, I do leave this discussion wondering if we really need to be so deferential to a potentially over-cautious interpretation of home rule in Indiana.

The local human rights ordinances in Bloomington and Monroe County can be found here: