Last year, BT put extra money into electric bus acquisition, just to add to the size of its fleet—to prepare for running a new east-west express route, after a study is completed to analyze the route’s exact alignment and scheduling.
This year, the capital expense category is still the biggest fraction of the budget, but that’s mostly because there’s a $12.5-million item in that category labeled “land acquisition.”
On Wednesday night, Bloomington’s city council voted 8–0 to postpone consideration of a countywide local income tax increase until its next regular meeting, which is scheduled for May 4.
The vote to postpone came a few minutes after 9 p.m. That made for a meeting that lasted about two and a half hours. Councilmembers asked questions of the mayor and staff, heard another round of public commentary, and discussed the proposal among themselves.
From left: Andrew Krebbs, John Hamilton, Beverly Calender-Anderson, Mike Diekhoff (April 20, 2022).
Bloomington’s city council has postponed its decision on an increase to Monroe County’s local income tax (LIT) rate.
On Wednesday, the vote on the motion to postpone was 8–1 with Steve Volan dissenting. The council will take up the matter again a week from Wednesday, at a special session on April 27.
Volan’s vote against postponement was not based on a desire to take a final vote on the LIT increase that night. Volan wanted some additional deliberation by the council on the question before postponement. The vote to postpone was taken at 10:52 p.m. almost four and a half hours after the meeting started, at 6:30 p.m.
If the city council approves the LIT rate increase by a vote of at least 8–1, that will increase the tax for all residents of Monroe County. If the approval gets fewer than eight votes of support, then the proposal would need to pick up some support from the county council and/or the Ellettsville town board.
On Wednesday, Bloomington’s city council could take a final vote that would enact an increase to the local income tax (LIT) that is paid by all residents of Monroe County, whether they live inside the city limits or not.
Bloomington mayor John Hamilton has proposed an increase of 0.855 points, which would make the total rate 2.2 percent. For county residents who pay the tax, it would mean an extra $85 dollars paid on every $10,000 of taxable income.
At the city council’s Wednesday night corral, there’s the possibility of some political horse trading, based on the amount of increase to the rate. The horse trading could even lead to a delay in the final vote for at least another week.
At-large council representative Matt Flaherty said at last week’s meeting he would support the rate as proposed by the mayor. But he added, “In working to meet my colleagues somewhere in the middle, at the very least, I think I can come down to 0.65, and find a balance of what I think is most essential.”
The balance to be struck in the package proposed by Hamilton is between public safety and essential services on the one hand, and climate change mitigation and quality of life on the other.
The focus of the council’s consideration now appears to be just the rate, and how much revenue it would mean for the city of Bloomington.
I think it’s wrong to make that the sole focus of deliberations.
Community discussion of Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s proposed increase to the countywide local income tax (LIT) has not included much mention of category of LIT called the “certified shares” category.
The certified shares category has a current rate of 0.9482 percent.
For Monroe County, the total current LIT rate is 1.345 percent, which comes from adding an additional 0.25 points in the public safety category, 0.0518 points in the property tax relief category, and another 0.0950 points in a special purpose category. The special purpose LIT revenues are used for juvenile services.
It’s the certified shares category of LIT that many other units of local government rely on for some of their basic operating expenses.
Other revenue items on the agenda include two $5-million bond proposals—one for parks bonds and the other for public works bonds. [Updated at 4:34 on April 13, 2022: Two amendments to the list of projects to be funded by the bonds were posted by the city council office. Here’s a link: 2022-04-13 meeting packet addendum.]
Also on Wednesday’s agenda is a nominal decrease to the drinking water rate, driven by the General Assembly’s repeal of the 1.4-percent utility receipts tax. It was a pass-through tax, which means it was collected by utilities and forwarded to the state. For the residential rate, the decrease is 5 cents—from $4.03 to $3.98 per 1,000 gallons. That works out to 1.2 percent less.
No final votes will be taken on Wednesday night at the committee meeting. But it is the city council’s custom to take straw polls. That should give some indication of how councilmembers are leaning toward the proposed income tax increase. Abstentions are generally used as a mechanism to show moderate disapproval.