If Bloomington Transit wanted to run buses outside of Bloomington’s city limits, what, if any, legal requirements would have to be met?
Specifically, what legal requirements would have to be met, in order for Bloomington Transit to serve educational and employment centers like Ivy Tech or Cook Medical—which are outside the city limits on the western edge of town?
In the last few years, the standard answer has been: An amendment to a local law would have to be enacted by the city council.
But a closer look at the local law, and a state statute, suggests that a change to the local law might not be needed.
Instead, the city council would just have to approve any proposed bus service outside the city’s boundaries.
A request from BT to run buses to specific locations outside city limits could presumably be placed on the city council’s agenda by BT—just like approval of its annual budget and tax rate is placed on the city council’s agenda. BT could not force the city council to grant approval.
But that stands in contrast to an ordinance that would change city code. BT does not have the right to place a proposed change to city code on the city council’s agenda, much less force the council to enact it.
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.
The final approval of $5.8-million in general obligation bonds appeared on Tuesday’s agenda for Bloomington’s board of park commissioners.
It did not get a vote, because only two of the four park commissioners were attending the meeting in person.
A special meeting will be scheduled so that a vote can be taken.
A third commissioner attended Tuesday’s meeting by using the Zoom video-conferencing platform—which allowed the board to achieve its quorum of three members to transact other items on its agenda.
Under Indiana’s Open Door Law (ODL), an attendee who participates by electronic communication counts towards satisfying a quorum.
And under ordinary circumstances a remote attendee’s votes count towards whatever majority is needed for a particular item to be approved.
But under the ODL, there are some circumstances that preclude a member’s participation in a meeting using electronic communication. Among them are meetings when the governing body is taking final action to “establish, raise, or renew a tax.”
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 Tuesday night, the five-member Bloomington Transit (BT) board voted unanimously to go ahead with a pilot program starting in early May that will use Uber or Lyft—with a subsidy for the rides taken under BT’s banner—to replace late night service on some existing routes.
The board also discussed a proposal by Bloomington mayor John Hamilton to increase the local income tax paid by all Monroe County residents and to use some of Bloomington’s share of the additional revenue to fund new BT transportation initiatives.
Board members expressed concern that the funding for the kind of transportation proposals described in the tax package would require some kind of long-term commitment by the city of Bloomington to BT. A memo with that message is supposed to be forwarded to the city council before Wednesday night’s city council meeting.
On Wednesday (April 20), the city council could take a final vote on the 0.855-point tax increase, which would raise the overall local income tax to a total of 2.2 percent.
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.