No increase to local income tax for Monroe County at this time: Bloomington’s city council votes 4–5

At Wednesday night’s meeting of the Bloomington city council, the voting tally on the proposal to enact a quarter point increase to Monroe County’s income tax was 4–5.

Voting yes were Dave Rollo, Matt Flaherty, Kate Rosenbarger and Steve Volan.

Voting no were Ron Smith, Isabel Piedmont-Smith, Susan Sandberg, Sue Sgambelluri, and Jim Sims.

Based on the wording of the state statute, the proposal looks like it is dead and does not need to be forwarded to the other members of the tax council—the Monroe County council, the Ellettsville town council and the Stinesville town council.

That’s because Bloomington’s city council action on Wednesday was a resolution to propose an ordinance to the rest of the tax council.

The statute says, “To [present an ordinance to other members of the tax council for passage], the member must adopt a resolution to propose the ordinance to the local income tax council and distribute a copy of the proposed ordinance to the county auditor.” [IC-6-3.6-3-8]

Given that the vote on the resolution was 4–5, the Bloomington city council did not adopt a resolution proposing an ordinance to the other members of the council.

A question asked by The Square Beacon at the meeting  during public commentary, to confirm that the other tax council members will not need to vote on the proposal, did not get a response.

Shortly after the meeting ended, a press release issued by the mayor’s office confirmed: “The ordinance will not be forwarded for consideration by the other members of the Monroe County Income Tax Council.”

The Square Beacon hopes to be able to report in more detail on the deliberations in a separate article. Continue reading “No increase to local income tax for Monroe County at this time: Bloomington’s city council votes 4–5”

Income tax estimates from state for Monroe County, Bloomington 2021 budgets: Up 9.3 percent compared to last year

Tuesday’s news from Indiana’s state budget agency (SBA) can be analyzed by local governments in Monroe County  as at least OK.

The SBA’s estimated distribution of local income tax revenue to Monroe County governments is about 9.3 percent higher for 2021 than it was for 2020.

That’s not a complete surprise. A big impact from the COVID-19 pandemic on income tax revenues to Indiana local governments is not expected to be felt until 2022. That’s when distributions of local income taxes (LITs) will be based on the tax collected on income earned in the pandemic year of 2020.

Still, in late summer this year, local governments were drawing up initial budgets for 2021 with some caution baked in. Even though the 2021 LIT distributions are based on taxes collected on income earned in 2019, there was some concern that the ability of wage earners to pay those taxes this year might have been be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. That concern looks like it has been somewhat relieved by Tuesday’s estimates from the SBA.

But based on the SBA estimates, the increased amount of revenues that Bloomington can likely factor into its 2021 plans will not be enough to tip the balance from a deficit budget to one where revenues exceed expenses.

Responding to a query from The Square Beacon, city communications director Yael Ksander said that “[T]he allocation for the City would still not equal the amount of deficit spending the 2021 budget proposes.”

Planned expenditures won’t be affected by Tuesday’s SBA estimates, Ksander said. “The 2021 expenditure budget will not be revised in light of these new estimates. This additional revenue would simply diminish the level of deficit spending.” Less deficit spending means the city will won’t have to tap as much in reserves as it had planned. Continue reading “Income tax estimates from state for Monroe County, Bloomington 2021 budgets: Up 9.3 percent compared to last year”

Bloomington councilmember on amount, timing, spending, oversight of possible tax increase for climate action: “All the things we’re talking about…are open questions.”

Bloomington city council’s climate action and resilience committee, a four-member subset of the council, convened a meeting Wednesday night to hear feedback from the public on a possible countywide increase to the local income tax.

About three dozen people attended, maybe a third of them Indiana University students, for whom attendance was a class assignment.

Based on the statutory framework for the county tax council, a simple 5–4 majority on the Bloomington city council would be enough to enact the tax.

The size of the increase that was floated on New Year’s Day by Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, was 0.5 points. That  would bring the total amount of local income tax paid by county residents to 1.845 percent.

But the amount of the increase, according to committee chair Matt Flaherty, is an open question, like nearly every other aspect of the proposal—including the timing of a vote by the Bloomington city council, constraints on expenditures, and oversight mechanisms. Continue reading “Bloomington councilmember on amount, timing, spending, oversight of possible tax increase for climate action: “All the things we’re talking about…are open questions.””