Archive | March, 2017

Public Information Meeting on 2018-2021 Transportation Projects Tomorrow at 5:30PM

28 Mar

 

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B-Line Extension Project (Illustrative Only)

For whatever reason the City of Bloomington doesn’t have an official press release out yet, so I am trying to do whatever I can to publicize a public information meeting scheduled for tomorrow evening (Wednesday, March 29, 2017 at 5:30PM at the Downtown Bloomington Transit Center, corner of N. Walnut and E. Third Streets) sponsored by the Bloomington/Monroe County Metropolitan Planning Organization (BMCMPO). This meeting will provide the public with information and take feedback on the transportation projects being considered for the 2018-2021 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).

The MPO coordinates the allocation of Federal transportation funding coming into the area and includes projects from the City of Bloomington, Monroe County, INDOT, Bloomington Transit, Rural Transit, and IU Bus.

The proposed fiscal plan that is being presented to MPO committees is here: FY1821TIP_Memo_032217. This plan provides the breakdowns of local vs. federal funding by project/local agency and by fiscal year. It is just the starting point for discussions, and could change based on feedback from MPO committees and the public. This public information meeting provides one — but not the only — opportunity to provide feedback. But this memo only shows the financial breakdowns — it doesn’t actually provide any detail on the projects themselves.

I’m hoping that a more public-friendly version of the project descriptions can be made available soon — but for now all I could find is the packet for the MPO Policy Committee from February 10, 2017. I extracted the relevant section here: MPO Policy Committee Project Descriptions From 2017-02-10 (warning: it is a pretty big document!).

There are several projects that I think the public will be particularly interested, including the County’s Fullerton Pike project (Phases 1 and 2), the County’s proposed roundabouts to improve safety at Curry Pike/Woodyard Road/Smith Pike, the City’s Tapp Road & Rockport Road Intersection project, Henderson Street, Winslow Road, and Jackson Creek trail projects, and the project I’m most excited about — a proposed extension of the B-Line trail west, to connect to the multi-use path going over I-69 at 17th Street and ultimately connecting to the County’s Karst Farm Greenway.

Hope to see members of the public at the meeting!

Here’s a draft of a press release from the MPO:

“The Bloomington/Monroe County Metropolitan Planning Organization (BMCMPO) will hold a Public Information Meeting with the goal of gaining public input for development of the Fiscal Year 2018-2021 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).

The TIP documents a comprehensive fiscally-constrained list of multi-modal federal-aid transportation projects programmed for Bloomington, Bloomington Transit, Ellettsville, INDOT, Indiana University Transit, Monroe County, and Rural Transit.

The Public Information Meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Downtown Bloomington Transit Center, located at the corner of N. Walnut and E. Third Streets.

Development of the new TIP requires a public involvement process which includes a public review by the BMCMPO Citizens Advisory Committee, the Technical Advisory Committee, and adoption by the Policy Committee before submission to state and federal agencies.

Public Meeting attendees will provide feedback on the proposed list of TIP projects and to help shape the project funding priorities of the MPO for the next three (3) years. The BMCMPO staff looks forward to discussing these and other important transportation issues with residents at the public meeting.

For more information or written comments on the FY 2018-2021 TIP, please contact BMCMPO Director Josh Desmond at 812.349.3423 or desmondj@bloomington.in.gov.”

I-69 Section 6 DEIS Recommendations: Quick Summary

17 Mar

IMG_2712A few hours ago, INDOT released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for I-69 Section 6, the final section of the Evansville to Indianapolis highway. Section 6 runs from just south of Martinsville to I-465.

Links to INDOT’s press release and the DEIS can be found here:

My (very) quick summary of the findings:

  • After 13 years of additional input and analysis, INDOT is sticking with the original route selected in the 2004 Tier 1 Record of Decision: the SR 37 corridor.
  • 4 lanes from Indian Creek (where Section 5 ends) to SR 144 north of Martinsville, 6 lanes from SR 144 to Southport Road, and 8 lanes from Southport Road to I-465
  • Using the existing SR 37 center median, with cable barriers or double sided guardrails at some locations. Note that an alternative that basically elevated I-69 through Martinsville was considered but not recommended.
  • The preferred alternative is referred to as C4.
  • Two options, with no recommendation, are provided for the interchange at Southport Road just south of I-465
  • The preferred alternative costs approximately $1.5B, assuming construction from 2020-2026
  • The final Record of Decision (ROD) and the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) from the Federal Highway Administration is anticipated for 1st quarter 2018.

The following map illustrates the preferred route, C4:

Screenshot 2017-03-17 21.24.06

The full DEIS is thousands of pages long. I strongly recommend you start with (and maybe stay with) the executive summary. S.6 provides a good summary of the rationale for the route selected. In addition Chapter 3: Alternatives: C4 Mapbook provides detailed and summary maps of the recommended alternative.

INDOT is accepting public comment through May 8 via the comment form at www.in.gov/indot/projects/i69/2463.htm or by mail to the I-69 Section 6 project office, 7847 Waverly Road, Martinsville, IN 46151. In addition, several public meetings are planned. For details, see the INDOT press release.

I-69 Section 6 Draft Environmental Impact Statement Released

17 Mar

The Indianapolis Department of Transportation (INDOT) just moments ago released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Section 6 of I-69, which will run from Martinsville to Indianapolis.  Public comments will be accepted through May 8, 2017.

  • INDOT’s press release can be found here.
  • The full Draft Environmental Impact Statement can be found here.

 

 

Annexation and Property Tax Rates 101

7 Mar

Screenshot 2017-03-07 19.05.08Introduction

As readers have no doubt heard, the City of Bloomington recently proposed to annex 7 areas of unincorporated territory in Monroe County, leading to a 65% increase in the area of the City. The City’s case for annexation (including maps and their fiscal plan) can be found here: http://bloomington.in.gov/annex.

I have developed a presentation that I have given in different forms at several community meetings about the annexation that deals specifically with the impact of annexation on property tax rates on annexed areas. Several constituents have suggested that I turn that presentation into a blog post, so this is my first attempt.

These annexations will have many effects on the community, the public, and other units of government (the county, townships, fire departments). The purpose of this presentation is to educate the public specifically on the likely effects of these annexations on property tax rates and property tax bills.

Big Disclaimer: This is based on what we know as of February 2017. This is not an official government document, and is only for community education and discussion. Your circumstances may vary — and many things can change between now and 2020.

Basic Terminology

A taxing unit is a unit of government that independently has the authority to levy property taxes. Monroe County includes the following taxing units:

    • Monroe County Government
    • School Corporations (MCCSC, R-BBSC)
    • Townships (Bean Blossom, Benton, Bloomington, Clear Creek, Indian Creek, Perry, Richland, Salt Creek, Polk, Van Buren, Washington)
    • Monroe County Public Library
    • Municipalities (Bloomington, Ellettsville, Stinesville)
    • Fire Protection Districts (Perry-Clear Creek Fire Protection District)
    • Monroe County Solid Waste Management District
    • Bloomington Transportation (the city bus is actually a taxing unit separate from the City of Bloomington)
    • Lake Lemon Conservancy District (only affects a small number of residents)

A taxing district is made up of all of the taxing units that provide services to a common geographical area. Property tax rates are uniform to all parcels within a taxing district. And property tax rates for a taxing district are simply the sums of all of the tax rates for all of the taxing units serving the district.

For example, tax rates for an unincorporated taxing district (i.e., a taxing district outside of one of the 3 incorporated municipalities of Bloomington, Ellettsville, and Stinesville) consist of:

= County Rate + Solid Waste District Rate + Public Library Rate + School Corporation Rate + Township Rate + (if in Perry or Clear Creek townships only) Perry Clear Creek Fire Protection District Rate

Tax rates for an incorporated taxing district (a taxing district within an incorporated municipality) consist of:

= County Rate + Solid Waste District Rate + Public Library Rate + School Corporation Rate + Township Rate – the fire protection component of the township rate + Municipal Rate + (if Bloomington) the Bloomington Transportation Rate

So basically the difference between unincorporated and incorporated rates are:

  • the fire protection component of the township tax rate (taxpayers don’t pay it in cities and towns, because fire protection is provided by the municipality)
  • the municipal tax rate (taxpayers don’t pay it outside of cities and towns)
  • Bloomington Transportation (taxpayers in the City of Bloomington pay a property tax rate for the city bus)

The following table shows the property tax rates for each of the taxing districts, from 2013-2017.

Screenshot 2017-03-07 07.24.46

Probably the thing you will notice first about this chart is the substantial increase in tax rates for unincorporated Bloomington Township (23.73%) and Washington Township (48.49%). These large increases are due to the newly created Northern Monroe Fire Territory, which upgrades the fire protection services provided to Bloomington and Washington townships.

Property Tax Rates and Annexation

Next I’m going to walk through the property tax rate calculations for three different townships: Van Buren, Richland, and Perry. The general format will be the same for each of these townships; only the numbers will change, so you probably won’t need to read through each one of them.

Also, I want to make sure to call attention to a couple of caveats/assumptions about the data.

This first caveat is worth spending a bit of time on. I am assuming that the City of Bloomington taxing unit’s property tax rate remains the same after annexation. To understand why this is an important assumption, consider how property tax rates are calculated: for most operating funds, the tax rate equals the tax levy (the amount collected in property taxes) divided by the total net assessed value of the area served by that levy. It is expressed in a rate per $100 of assessed value. If the levy stays the same and the assessed value served increases, then the tax rate naturally decreases.

The levy (technically the maximum levy — a unit can always choose a levy lower than the maximum, but in practice most units use the maximum) normally is only allowed escalate by a certain amount each year determined by the state. For 2017 that amount was 3.8%.

If a municipality annexes additional territory, they are permitted to automatically increase their maximum levy by the same proportion that their assessed value is increasing, under the theory that if the assessed value increases by X% then the cost of providing services presumably increases by X% — up to 15%. Above 15%, the municipality has to petition the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) to give them an excess levy.

In this case, the 7 proposed annexations add up to a total 28.14% increase in assessed value. The City’s own fiscal plan for the annexation (p.69) makes clear that they are assuming that they will receive a corresponding 28.14% increase in their maximum levy. See the table below from the fiscal plan:

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If the City receives this full excess levy, then the tax rate won’t change (because the levy AND the assessed value would be increased by the same factor, canceling each other out). If the City were to receive less than the full 28.14% excess levy, then the levy would increase by less than the assessed value under annexation, and thus the tax rate for the City of Bloomington would decrease; however, they wouldn’t have as much revenue as projected in the fiscal plan, and it isn’t clear that they would be able to provide the necessary services.

In these  calculations, however, I’m going with the City of Bloomington’s own assumption — that they will receive the full 28.14% increase in their levy to go along with the 28.14% increase in their assessed value.

Van Buren Township

The Van Buren Township taxing district’s 2017 property tax rate is $1.4645 per $100 of assessed value. That rate comprises the following:

Presentation on Property Tax Rates (1)

The township component of the tax rate ($0.3094  per $100 of assessed value) is actually made up of multiple components.

Presentation on Property Tax Rates (2)

Annexed residents don’t pay the fire component of the township tax rate ($0.2364). However, they still do continue to pay any fire debt until the debt is paid off.

And — annexed residents now pay two new tax rates: the Bloomington Civil City tax rate (actually, a little bit less — see below) and the Bloomington Transportation (city bus) rates. The two city rates are shown below.

Presentation on Property Tax Rates (3)

The one exception I just mentioned is that newly annexed residents don’t inherit the City’s existing debt before annexation. The following diagram illustrates the proportion that debt adds to the rate:

Presentation on Property Tax Rates (4)

So newly annexed taxpayers, in addition to the other taxes (County, schools, library, etc.) will pay the Bloomington Civil City rate of $0.8627 minus the debt rate of $0.0281 = $0.8346, along with the Bloomington Transportation rate of $0.0354 for a total of $2.0981 per $100 of assessed value.

Screenshot 2017-03-07 19.00.28

The following diagram compares the tax rates pre-annexation to post-annexation for Van Buren Township: an increase of $0.6336, or a 43.26% increase.

Screenshot 2017-03-07 19.02.51

Also note that these rates do not include any additional debt that the City of Bloomington will likely have to take on in order to provide infrastructure to serve the newly annexed areas. The City states in its fiscal plan (p.34) that it will need to bond these capital expenses, but does not include the additional tax rate needed to service this debt in its own estimate of tax rates.

So what do these post-annexation tax rates look like on an individual’s tax bill in Van Buren Township? I did a tax bill simulation on a couple of different scenarios here to illustrate the effects. Again, I’ll give a couple of caveats: First, this assumes that the annexation takes effect immediately; many things could happen between now and 2020. Second, these examples assume that the income tax collected for homestead property tax relief has the same effect on an individual’s tax bill as in 2016. These numbers don’t include any amount for additional City debt to pay for infrastructure for the newly annexed areas. And finally, there are some protections against substantial increases in property taxes for taxpayers over 65 years of age whose income and assessed value meet certain guidelines.

Screenshot 2017-03-07 19.12.09

 

Screenshot 2017-03-07 19.12.26

 

Screenshot 2017-03-07 19.12.35

As you can see, at around $250,000 of assessed value, the constitutional circuit breakers (“tax caps”) kick in. This keeps the increase in taxes down for the taxpayer — but causes other units like the school district, the public library, and the county to lose money. This is an important aspect of the tax caps to understand — the City, by raising taxes to a degree that causes the tax caps to kick in can actually cause other units like the schools to lose revenue. Not just not increase revenue by as much, but actually to see a reduction in revenue.

Finally, let’s look at a business:

Screenshot 2017-03-07 19.12.45

Richland Township

In this section, I’ll repeat the same argument that I did for Van Buren Township, so unless you are specifically interested in the numbers for Richland Township, you can skip this section. The one thing that is different about Richland Township is that because Richland-Bean Blossom School Corporation does not have the referendum tax rate that MCCSC does, it takes a much lower assessed value for properties to hit the circuit breakers (the referendum tax rate is exempt from the tax caps).

The Richland Township taxing district’s 2017 property tax rate is $1.7915 per $100 of assessed value. That rate comprises the following:

Screenshot 2017-03-07 19.21.02

The township component of the tax rate ($0.1673  per $100 of assessed value) is made up of multiple components.

Screenshot 2017-03-07 19.21.10

Annexed residents don’t pay the fire component of the township tax rate ($0.2364). However, they still do continue to pay any fire debt until the debt is paid off.

And — annexed residents now pay two new tax rates: the Bloomington Civil City tax rate (actually, a little bit less — see below) and the Bloomington Transportation (city bus) rates. The two city rates are shown below.

Presentation on Property Tax Rates (3)

The one exception I just mentioned is that newly annexed residents don’t inherit the City’s existing debt before annexation. The following diagram illustrates the proportion that debt adds to the rate:

Presentation on Property Tax Rates (4)

So newly annexed taxpayers, in addition to the other taxes (County, schools, library, etc.) will pay the Bloomington Civil City rate of $0.8627 minus the debt rate of $0.0281 = $0.8346, along with the Bloomington Transportation rate of $0.0354 for a total of $2.0981 per $100 of assessed value.

Screenshot 2017-03-07 19.21.36

The following diagram compares the tax rates pre-annexation to post-annexation for Richland Township: an increase of $0.7326, or a 40.9% increase.

Screenshot 2017-03-07 19.21.46

Also note that these rates do not include any additional debt that the City of Bloomington will likely have to take on in order to provide infrastructure to serve the newly annexed areas. The City states in its fiscal plan (p.34) that it will need to bond these capital expenses, but does not include the additional tax rate needed to service this debt in its own estimate of tax rates.

So what do these post-annexation tax rates look like on an individual’s tax bill in Richland Township? I did a tax bill simulation on a couple of different scenarios here to illustrate the effects. Again, I’ll give a couple of caveats: First, this assumes that the annexation takes effect immediately; many things could happen between now and 2020. Second, these examples assume that the income tax collected for homestead property tax relief has the same effect on an individual’s tax bill as in 2016. These numbers don’t include any amount for additional City debt to pay for infrastructure for the newly annexed areas. And finally, there are some protections against substantial increases in property taxes for taxpayers over 65 years of age whose income and assessed value meet certain guidelines.

Screenshot 2017-03-07 19.21.58

Screenshot 2017-03-07 19.22.09

Note that the tax caps kick in with an assessed value of less than $150,000 in Richland Township. This keeps the increase in taxes down for the taxpayer — but causes other units like the school district, the public library, and the county to lose money. This is an important aspect of the tax caps to understand — the City, by raising taxes to a degree that causes the tax caps to kick in can actually cause other units like the schools to lose revenue. Not just not increase revenue by as much, but actually to see a reduction in revenue.

Finally, let’s look at a business, such as one of the many that are located in the westside economic development area in Richland Township:

Screenshot 2017-03-07 19.22.20

Perry Township

In this section, I’ll repeat the same argument that I did for Van Buren and Richland Townships, so unless you are specifically interested in the numbers for Perry Township, you can skip this section. The one distinctive feature of Perry Township is that fire protection is provided by the Perry-Clear Creek Fire Protection District, which is actually an independent taxing unit. The examples in Richland and Van Buren townships had the fire protection provided by the township (although in Richland Township it is provided by contract with Ellettsville Fire Department).

The Perry Township taxing district’s 2017 property tax rate is $1.3315 per $100 of assessed value. That rate comprises the following:

Screenshot 2017-03-07 19.32.05

Annexed residents don’t pay the fire protection district rate ($0.1540).

And — annexed residents now pay two new tax rates: the Bloomington Civil City tax rate (actually, a little bit less — see below) and the Bloomington Transportation (city bus) rates. The two city rates are shown below.

Presentation on Property Tax Rates (3)

The one exception I just mentioned is that newly annexed residents don’t inherit the City’s existing debt before annexation. The following diagram illustrates the proportion that debt adds to the rate:

Presentation on Property Tax Rates (4)

So newly annexed taxpayers, in addition to the other taxes (County, schools, library, etc.) will pay the Bloomington Civil City rate of $0.8627 minus the debt rate of $0.0281 = $0.8346, along with the Bloomington Transportation rate of $0.0354 for a total of $2.0981 per $100 of assessed value.

Screenshot 2017-03-07 19.33.00

The following diagram compares the tax rates pre-annexation to post-annexation for Perry Township: an increase of $0.7160, or a 53.77% increase in tax rates.

Screenshot 2017-03-07 19.33.29

Also note that these rates do not include any additional debt that the City of Bloomington will likely have to take on in order to provide infrastructure to serve the newly annexed areas. The City states in its fiscal plan (p.34) that it will need to bond these capital expenses, but does not include the additional tax rate needed to service this debt in its own estimate of tax rates.

So what do these post-annexation tax rates look like on an individual’s tax bill in Richland Township? I did a tax bill simulation on a couple of different scenarios here to illustrate the effects. Again, I’ll give a couple of caveats: First, this assumes that the annexation takes effect immediately; many things could happen between now and 2020. Second, these examples assume that the income tax collected for homestead property tax relief has the same effect on an individual’s tax bill as in 2016. These numbers don’t include any amount for additional City debt to pay for infrastructure for the newly annexed areas. And finally, there are some protections against substantial increases in property taxes for taxpayers over 65 years of age whose income and assessed value meet certain guidelines.

Screenshot 2017-03-07 19.33.39

Screenshot 2017-03-07 19.33.46

Screenshot 2017-03-07 19.33.56

Note that the tax caps only actually benefit much more expensive properties in Perry Township. But once they take effect, as with other taxing districts, they cause other units like the school district, the public library, and the county to lose money. This is an important aspect of the tax caps to understand — the City, by raising taxes to a degree that causes the tax caps to kick in can actually cause other units like the schools to lose revenue. Not just not increase revenue by as much, but actually to see a reduction in revenue.

Finally, let’s look at a business in Perry Township:

Screenshot 2017-03-07 19.34.05

As you can see, because the circuit breaker limit for businesses is 3%, the circuit breakers have no impact for business properties.

Summary of Tax Rate Changes Under Annexation

Now that I’ve gone through detailed examples for Van Buren, Richland, and Perry Townships, here is a summary of the impact of annexation on the tax rates of all of the unincorporated areas that the proposed annexation affects:

 

screenshot-2017-03-07-19-34-17.png

Potential New City Debt

As I mentioned earlier, the City states in its fiscal plan that it will take on debt to provide infrastructure for the newly annexed areas. It provides 4 estimates of the debt service payments: a maximal and minimal estimate of the total amount required for the capital investment and a 10 year and a 20 year debt service schedule. Using the City’s fiscal plan’s own estimates for the annual debt service payment and their estimate of the additional assessed value from the annexation, I attempted to quantify the additional tax rates required to provide the capital infrastructure necessary to support the annexation:

Screenshot 2017-03-07 19.34.27

As you can see, the debt would add an additional between 2.5 cents and 6.35 cents per $100 of AV. Note that this debt would be paid by all city taxpayers, not just newly annexed taxpayers. In addition, the additional tax rates would have some small additional circuit breaker impact, leading to some additional revenue loss for other units of government.

Conclusion

I hope that if you made it all the way through, you found this explanation of the impacts of annexation on tax rates helpful and informative. I will undoubtedly be writing quite a bit more about annexation and its impacts on taxpayers as well as the county and other units of government such as townships and fire protection districts. If there is something you find unclear or incomplete about this explanation of tax rates, please let me know and I will gladly rewrite or expand!