Bloomington mayor pitches 64% increase in Monroe County’s local income tax

In a news release issued Wednesday afternoon ahead of the city council’s evening meeting, Bloomington mayor John Hamilton put a specific number on the local income tax (LIT) rate increase he has been talking about for the last several weeks.

What Hamilton is proposing is an increase from 1.345 percent to 2.200 percent. That’s 0.855 points, or about a 64-percent increase to the current rate.

Based on the current public safety local income tax rate, which is 0.25 percent, and the state’s certified local income tax distributions for 2022, just a quarter-point LIT increase would generate a total of $9,025,682 a year countywide.

For a full point increase, that translates into $36.1 million in revenue countywide. That figure, multiplied by Hamilton’s proposed 0.855 increase, means about $30.87 million.

Based on the proportional population distribution method proposed by Hamilton, Bloomington’s share would be about $17.5 million. Monroe County government’s share would be about $11.9 million, with the remainder going to Ellettsville and Stinesville.

Continue reading “Bloomington mayor pitches 64% increase in Monroe County’s local income tax”

Proposed local income tax increase for Monroe County residents, tax bump for Bloomington property owners: Some details emerge

In a memo released Thursday afternoon, Bloomington mayor John Hamilton announced some details about an anticipated local income tax (LIT) increase for Monroe County.

Bloomington’s city council will be asked to enact a tax increase as soon as one month from now.

Also getting some additional detail was the issuance of $10 million in general obligation (GO) bonds that the council will be asked to approve. Issuing GO bonds will bump Bloomington’s property tax rate.

Several documents released on Thursday, and posted on a separate page on the city’s website, include a breakdown for potentially $17 million in additional annual spending by the city of Bloomington, based on additional local income tax revenues.

The broad categories of possible increased LIT spending are: climate change ($6.35 million); essential services ($2.5 million); public safety ($4.5 million); and quality of life ($3.65 million).

Under the climate change category, the biggest part ($4.85 million) could go towards public transit.

[Google Sheet compiled by The B Square]

Continue reading “Proposed local income tax increase for Monroe County residents, tax bump for Bloomington property owners: Some details emerge”

Bloomington Transit board OKs shift to slightly bigger gear related to COVID-19 reopening

At its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday night, the five-member Bloomington Transit board approved a two-phase reopening plan for public bus service in the city.

The plan sets June 1 as the date when something closer to a normal summer break schedule will resume.

Public buses in Bloomington have still been running during the state’s COVID-19 emergency orders, but using a modified Saturday schedule every day. That reduces the number of service hours by about half compared to normal levels this time of year.

Schedules are posted on BT’s website. Realtime bus locations, when they are running, are available through the mobile app DoubleMap.

During the first phase of BT’s reopening plan, passengers can continue to ride the bus fare-free and board through the rear door. Through the first phase, drivers will continue to receive time-and-a-half hazard pay. Continue reading “Bloomington Transit board OKs shift to slightly bigger gear related to COVID-19 reopening”

Beacon Benchmark: Busing it around Bloomington

Note: Beacon Benchmark columns are a way for the B Square Beacon’s writer to give readers some regular behind-the-scenes insight into this website, which aims to serve some of the news and information needs of Bloomington, Indiana.  

Yesterday marked what I hope will be the start of a month of daily rides on a Bloomington Transit bus. What’s the occasion?

cropped smartphone in hand bus IMG_6580
A 31-day smart phone boarding pass purchased through Token Transit. Showing the BT driver this display, which includes some dynamic elements, gets a passenger onto the bus. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

For one thing, July 1 is the beginning of the month. It’s also the beginning of the state of Indiana’s fiscal year, which runs from July 1 through June 30.

So it’s a good time to start something.

Why start riding the bus every day? It is a fair question, especially because I can’t ride the bus every day in July. On the Fourth of July, BT bus service is not available.

I will need to find a different way to make my way out to the Monroe County fairgrounds on July 4, to watch the rodeo that’s being put on by the International Professional Rodeo Association.

Readers who are familiar with the BT system know there’s no bus stop at the fairgrounds. But a Route 4 bus will get you to the intersection of SR 45 and Curry Pike.

From there, it would be about a mile and a half to the fairgrounds. That distance I can cover in just a few minutes by bicycle—if I load my two-wheeler into one of the racks on the front of the bus. That’s something I’ll have to try on a different day from the Fourth. Continue reading “Beacon Benchmark: Busing it around Bloomington”

Bloomington Transit bus ridership: Continued slide in 2018 with university affiliated ridership down 8 percent

Fresh numbers provided by Bloomington Transit show that total bus ridership last year dropped for the fourth year in a row. And the decrease was driven mostly by decreases in ridership by university affiliates—students and faculty.

The roughly 3.1 million rides taken on Bloomington public buses in 2018—by university affiliates or rank-and-file resident riders—reflect a 6-percent decrease compared to the year before, and a 13-percent decrease compared to the peak of 3.51 million rides taken in 2014.

The recent four-year downward slide follows a few years of slowing growth and a plateau, after a 50-percent increase in ridership from 2005 to 2010.

Ridership in 2018 was the lowest in nearly a decade. The most recent year with lower ridership than in 2018 was 2009, when 3.03 million trips were taken.

Bloomington Transit Ridership Trend by Year Feb 2019

Continue reading “Bloomington Transit bus ridership: Continued slide in 2018 with university affiliated ridership down 8 percent”