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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.

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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

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

 

 

Tax Abatement Application and Grant Funding for Futures Family Planning Clinic — Preview of Monroe County Council Meeting 2016-03-08

6 Mar

2016 County Council MembersThis Tuesday’s regular session of the Monroe County Council (2016-03-08 5:30 PM in the Nat U Hill Room) will feature several important topics, including a first reading for a tax abatement application for the 3D Stone mill at 6700 S Victor Pike and appropriation of grant funding for the County’s Futures Family Planning Clinic. The full packet for the meeting is available here: Council_Packet_20160308.

The Council will be hearing the first reading (of two) for a personal property tax abatement application from Lily and Kurt Sendek (doing business as L & K Real Estate Investments) for an expansion of their 3D Stone business at 6700 S Victor Pike, in southern Monroe County.

The property is shown below. Note that the property crosses Victor Pike, and includes a parcel that a proposed County greenway (going along the Illinois Central rail line) goes through.

Screenshot 2016-03-06 08.52.49

3D Stone Mill Property, 6700 S Victor Pike

The site currently has 44 full-time employees. The owners are proposing to add a second production shift to the business, which will add approximately 32 new full-time permanent positions, ranging in starting wages from $11 (General Labor) per hour to $20 (Stone Cutter) per hour, plus a supervisor at $25 per hour. Benefits include employee profit-sharing plan and health/dental/vision insurance. The abatement application in the council packet (Council_Packet_20160308) provides more details on positions, wages, and benefits.

The owners are requesting the tax abatement only on personal property (i.e., business equipment) — on the approximately $800,000 in equipment they propose to purchase for the business expansion (including CNC cutting equipment, saws, forklifts, and IT production management system).

Here is a picture of the business. Note that the red lines are caused by an error in the county’s GIS.

Screenshot 2016-03-06 09.05.43

3D Stone Mill

The County Council will be hearing this tax abatement application for the first reading. It has already been reviewed and received a favorable recommendation by the Monroe County Economic Development Commission (EDC). If the County Council votes in favor of this tax abatement at the meeting, a public hearing will be conducted and the Council will take a final vote (“confirmatory resolution”) on the abatement.

Other items up for discussion at the meeting include:

  • The Health Department is requesting the appropriation of funding (as well as creation of budget lines and other housekeeping) for the County’s Futures Family Planning Clinic from Title V, Title X, and Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF)
  • The Legal Department is requesting the appropriation of $40,000 in fees that the county attorneys are allowed to receive in penalties and fees collected from delinquent personal property taxpayers. County attorneys are able to supplement their regular salary by working off-the-clock to collect unpaid personal property taxes. The amount they receive is on top of the taxes actually collected on behalf of the county, so the county does not lose any tax revenue.
  • The Probation Department is requesting the appropriation of $50,000 in grant funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI), which supports alternatives to incarcerating youth.
  • The Veterans Affairs department is requesting an additional appropriation of $41,503, primarily because the county’s Veterans Service Officer position was reclassified and upgraded to full time after the 2016 budget had been set. In addition, $5000 of new training funding is being requested.

As always, the meeting is open to the public, and will be held this Tuesday evening (March 8, 2016) 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!

More Discussion about Funding for Volunteer Fire Departments and New Financial Software for the County? Preview of Monroe County Council Work Session 2016-02-23

23 Feb

2016 County Council MembersThis evening’s work session of the Monroe County Council (5:30 PM in the Nat U Hill Room) will feature two topics: funding for volunteer fire departments and potential new financial software for the county.

Funding for Volunteer Fire Departments

At the last regular session, the Council appropriated $5000 for each fire department in the county with a volunteer component (8 total fire departments) from revenues received by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources from timber sales from state forests located in Monroe County.  This was the amount requested by the County Commissioners — $2500 for each fire department from 2014-2015 revenues and $2500 for 2011-2012 revenues (somehow the county neglected to make the distribution to fire departments in 2012).

I provided a little more background on the timber sales distributions here.

The reason for tonight’s discussion is that some councilors, and in particular Council President Cheryl Munson, who has been strongly involved in volunteer fire departments through her service in Indian Creek Township, think that the distribution requested by the County Commissioners ($2500 per department) is too low compared to the need. The statute that requires the timber sales distribution to volunteer fire departments earmarks up to 50% of the timber sales revenue for fire departments, if the Commissioners request it. For this year (2014-2015), this would mean that the Commissioners could have requested up to $4955 per fire department.

The purpose of this discussion tonight is to explore options and interest in providing additional funding for fire departments.  For additional background, here is some data on county distributions of timber sales revenues to volunteer fire departments from 2005-present:

Screenshot 2016-02-23 06.27.38

County Financial Software

A an item that is not yet on the agenda will likely be discussed. The county council is still under discussions to potentially fund the purchase of new financial software. We are considering, upon request from the Auditor’s Office, the purchase of financial software from Low Associates to replace the County’s aging Harris Open Window financial system.

A representative from Low is anticipated to be at the work session to answer Council questions, as will the County’s Director of Technical Services (IT).

Costs of the new software (including installation, implementation, and training) are estimated at $188,236, plus an additional $37,176 in annual maintenance expenses. Discussions will likely center around (1) should the County move forward in purchasing the new financial software; (2) if so, when, and (3) if so, how should we pay for it. Options for funding the software include cash on hand from County Option Income Tax (COIT) revenues, the Commissioners’ Cumulative Capital Development fund, and a potential future General Obligation (GO) bond.

The packet for the meeting is available here: Council_Work_Session_Packet_20160223. However, it probably won’t be particularly useful — there is no detail on the timber sales issue, and the Low software discussion is a last-minute addition.

As always, the meeting is open to the public and will be televised on CATS. Hope to see you there!

 

2016 Monroe County Budget Order — Property Tax Rates and Budgets Approved

12 Feb
Monroe County Courthouse at Night

Monroe County Courthouse at Night

Yesterday, Monroe County received its budget order for 2016 from the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance. This means that the Department of Local Government Finance has approved for Monroe County:

  • 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 2016 tax rates by taxing district (along with the 2013, 2014, and 2015 rates for comparison):

2016 Monroe County Tax Rates by District

 

Tax rates for all taxing districts actually went down this year, except for Bloomington Township and Salt Creek Township. Tax rates for these two districts went up a bit, because of fire debt service payments.

The full budget order can be found here: Monroe County 2016 Budget Order

Funding for Volunteer Fire Departments, CASA, and New Financial Software for the County? Preview of Monroe County Council Meeting 2016-02-09

7 Feb

2016 County Council Members

The packet and agenda for this Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Monroe County Council is now available: Council_Packet_20160209.

The following are the major substantive items on the agenda:

  • The Monroe County Circuit Court is requesting an additional appropriation of $27,334 out of the Juvenile County Option Income Tax (a 0.095% special income tax earmarked for juvenile services) for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), a a volunteer-powered program which provides representation in juvenile court for child victims of abuse and neglect. This is an increase over the 2016 budgeted amount of $137,166 (which was unchanged from the 2015 amount), and is being requested due to increasing demands on the program.
  • The Health Department is requesting an appropriation of a $15,000 grant to support the Monroe County syringe exchange program, in an agreement with the Indiana Recovery Alliance. The Health Department announced the opening of the syringe exchange program this past Friday. The program will provide free syringes, prevention supplies, HIV and Hepatitis C testing, treatment and social service referrals, and harm reduction and naloxone education.
  • The Probation Department is requesting the creation of a fund and appropriation of a $32,065 Justice Assistance Grant for the Drug Court Coordinator position, funding for which is shared with the COIT General Fund budget. This is a cut from last year’s grant, and we have been notified that after 11 years of funding, we will be unlikely to receive funding next year. Monroe County’s Drug Court has been a demonstrable success in the past, and it will be a priority both of the Probation Department and — hopefully — the County Council to continue to fund Drug Court operations.
  • The Legal Department is requesting an appropriation of $25,000 for potential claims settlement. The legal department has typically had this amount available to it to settle claims on behalf of Monroe County when a negotiated settlement is in our best interest. The line was cut in 2016 budget hearings; however, the legal department is requesting it be reinstated, in order to broaden our options in future negotiations.
  • The Correctional Center is requesting an additional appropriation of $35,441.61 out of the Misdemeanant/County Corrections Fund for part-time hourly. It appears that this part-time hourly request was accidentally omitted from the jail’s 2016 budget request. The hope is that better use of part-time hourly revenue could result in reduced overtime costs, which was a major problem in 2015, and will likely be in 2016 as well, following a collective bargaining agreement with the correctional employees that changed the rules on overtime. In addition, there might be additional discussion of recent and proposed statutory changes to the rules for the Misdemeanant Fund.
  • The Auditor’s Office is requesting an appropriation of $235,000 out of the COIT General fund for purchase of new financial software (LOW Windows Accounting System).
    • The Auditor’s Office switched to LOW’s property tax management system two years ago, and has been investigating a potential conversion for the past couple of months, and has conducted a public demonstration with all county stakeholders, worked extensively with the Technical Services Department (IT), and led site visits to other counties that are using the same system.
    • The Council has not seen the full financial plan for purchasing and supporting LOW yet, nor a requested cost-benefit analysis, though, so while the switch to LOW is very promising, this request is premature, in my opinion.
  • The County Commissioners are requesting an appropriation of $40,000 out of the General Fund for aid to volunteer fire departments in the county.
    • Every year, by statute, the county receives 15% of the net proceeds from logging activities on state forests located in the county from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
    • For the 2015-2016 fiscal year, Monroe County received $79,295, which was deposited in the Property Tax General Fund in December. Also by statute, 50% of this revenue is earmarked for rural and volunteer fire departments within the county that have a cooperative agreement with the state.
    • However, the statute also specifies a $1000 maximum annual distribution per fire company, unless the legislative body (the County Commissioners) allows a greater distribution.
    • Whatever the distribution amount allowed, it must be the same for all eligible fire departments. There are 8 fire departments in Monroe County eligible for this funding: Bean Blossom Township Fire Department, Benton Township Fire Department, Bloomington Fire Department, Bloomington Township Volunteer Fire Department, Ellettsville Volunteer Fire Department, Indian Creek Firefighters Inc, Perry/Clear Creek Fire Protection District, and Van Buren Township Volunteer Fire Department. Note that many of these fire departments have both volunteer and professional firefighters.
    • The Commissioners have decided to give each volunteer fire department $2500, for a total of $20,000. The maximum that they could have provided each department was $4956 ($4956 x 8 departments = $39,648, which is 505 of the revenue). The rest of the revenue not provided to volunteer fire departments reverts to the Property Tax General Fund, where it can be spent on any expense of county government.
    • In addition, it was discovered that no distribution was provided to fire departments from the 2012 timber sales revenues. Therefore, the Commissioners are requesting an additional $2500 per fire department, to make up for the missed distribution. Honestly, I am really shocked that no one noticed this omission before now. Some of these rural fire departments are very small, and need all of the assistance they can get!
  • The Commissioners are making several requests for  appropriations for capital projects that have already been programmed.
    • They are requesting $317,609 in appropriations from the 2013 General Obligation bond, to finish up several projects, including Showers building repairs, a remodel of the jail, fire suppression systems, the solar project on the Justice Building, and a section of the Karst Farm Greenway.
    • They are also requesting $239,140 in appropriations from the 2014 General Obligation bond for emergency notifications, IT hardware, and the energy conservation project.
  • The Commissioners are requesting $102,500 from the Cable Franchise Fees fund for several items that were accidentally left off of 2016 budget requests (but are typically funded from the Cable Franchise Fees fund): telephone maintenance, software development services, and the county’s copier lease.
  • The Clerk is requesting the appropriation of $191,918 from a federal Violence Against Women grant that will pay a program coordinator and supplies for the Clerk’s Office, the courts, and law enforcement.
  • The Council will be working with the Clerk and the Election Board to complete the establishment and appropriations for the county’s new Election and Voter Registration Fund. The purpose of this fund is to smooth out the variability in election expenses over the four-year cycle (Presidential election, no election, off-year election, municipal election). The new fund has already been created and the Council transferred $986,000 into it out of the Rainy Day Fund. At this meeting, the council will be setting up the budget lines in the new fund, appropriating into these lines, and deappropriating the old Voter Registration and Election budgets (in the Property Tax General and COIT General Funds, respectively).

Whew, sounds like it could be a long night!

As always, the meeting is open to the public, and will be held this Tuesday evening (February 9, 2016) 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!