Bloomington city council declines mayor’s request for tax increase on 4-5 vote, proposal now dead

On Monday Wednesday night, Bloomington’s city council voted 4–5 on a request from mayor John Hamilton for a quarter-point increase to the countywide local income tax. That kills the proposal and it will not be considered by other governing bodies in Monroe County.

A press release from Bloomington mayor John Hamilton, issued 15 minutes before midnight on Wednesday and shortly after the city council’s meeting concluded, announced the news.

The headline of the press release leaves the defeat of the proposal to the calculation of readers: “City Council Renders Four Votes for 0.25% Local Income Tax Increase.”

The press release confirmed that the proposed ordinance considered by Bloomington’s city council will not be forwarded for consideration to the other members of Monroe County’s income tax council, which includes the county council and the two town councils. [IC-6-3.6-3-8]

The four votes in favor of the tax increase came from Dave Rollo, Matt Flaherty, Kate Rosenbarger and Steve Volan.

Voting against the proposal were Ron Smith, Isabel Piedmont-Smith, Susan Sandberg, Sue Sgambelluri, and Jim Sims.

The press release quotes Hamilton saying, “I am disappointed that a majority of our city council did not affirm the need for government to step up in this time of multiple crises to take care of our residents, and protect and advance the community for subsequent generations with additional revenue.”

The extra 0.25 points of local income tax would have brought the total rate paid by Monroe County residents to 1.5950 percent. The higher rate would have generated around $4 million for the city of Bloomington and around $4 million for Monroe County government and the two towns of Ellettsville and Stinesville.

The arithmetic on 0.25 points of additional income tax for someone with a taxable income of $30,000 would translate to an extra $75 a year. Continue reading “Bloomington city council declines mayor’s request for tax increase on 4-5 vote, proposal now dead”

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”

New Bloomington commission floated, would oversee funds from higher local income tax rate

On Wednesday night at a special meeting, Bloomington’s city council started its deliberations on a proposal to increase the countywide local income tax by a quarter point. The debate will continue on Sept. 16.

A new seven-member Sustainable Development Fund Advisory Commission (SDFAC) could be created by the Bloomington city council that would control spending of about $4 million in funds that would be generated by the extra quarter point added to the rate through an increase the council is considering.

That amount would take the rate from 1.345 percent to 1.595 percent. The higher rate would generate about $4 million annually for Bloomington. A little more than $4 million would be generated each year for Monroe County government and the town of Ellettsville.

A public hearing and a vote is scheduled for Sept. 16.

Under a proposed ordinance released to the public a few hours before the city council’s special meeting, a new city commission would have some control over expenditures from the extra revenue.

Under the ordinance, a new non-reverting fund would be created, called the Sustainable Development Fund.

Future ordinances and resolutions requiring expenditures from the fund would be subject to approval of a new seven-member commission, called the Sustainable Development Fund Advisory Commission (SDFAC).

Under the new ordinance, without a majority recommendation from the seven-member commission, the city council could not adopt an ordinance requiring an expenditure from the new fund.

Membership on the new commission would consist of: the mayor, three councilmembers and three citizens. That means an ordinance requiring expenditures from the new fund could be blocked by a coalition consisting of a single councilmember and three citizens.

The ordinance creating the new commission got a first reading on Wednesday, but no discussion, because under local code no debate or amendments are allowed at a first reading.  It will be considered at a second reading on Sept. 16.

Wednesday marked the first public deliberations by the city council on the possible income tax increase. A city council work session held last Friday was limited to asking questions of the administration.

On Wednesday, four councilmembers indicated some level of support. The other five can be analyzed as undecided. Continue reading “New Bloomington commission floated, would oversee funds from higher local income tax rate”

Bloomington mayor renews call for local income tax increase, reduces ask from 0.5 percentage points to 0.25; says 2021 budget for sworn police officers will decrease

Bloomington’s mayor John Hamilton has renewed his call, made at the start of the year, for the Bloomington city council to increase the local income tax.

cropped Hamilton Screen Shot 2020-07-16 at 3.51.31 PM
Screen shot of Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s July 16, 2020 Facebook video. (Image links to video.)

Such a tax would apply to all residents of Monroe County.

The additional revenue from the income tax would still go towards climate action and sustainability initiatives. But the 0.25-percentage-point increase suggested by Hamilton on Thursday is half the 0.5-point increase that Hamilton had proposed on New Year’s Day.

Another highlight from Thursday’s message from the mayor, which could be overshadowed by reaction to the income tax proposal, is an indication that recent calls to “defund the police” have resonated with the mayor at least a certain degree.

From the mayor’s Thursday speech: “Our budget for 2021 will propose significant changes in the police department, including reductions in funding of badged officer positions and increases in non-badged positions…” Continue reading “Bloomington mayor renews call for local income tax increase, reduces ask from 0.5 percentage points to 0.25; says 2021 budget for sworn police officers will decrease”

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.””

County council gives preliminary OK to tax abatement worth about $3.1M, would still generate $3.1M of paid taxes


In May this year, at the corner of Curry Pike and State Road 46, Ernest Health might be able to start building a $20-million inpatient rehabilitation hospital. And if construction goes as planned, the multi-state health care company could be treating patients there as soon as a year later.

That depends in part on getting a tax break from Monroe County.

The project took one step towards getting that boost from the county council of Monroe County, at its regular meeting on Tuesday night. With a unanimous vote, the seven-member county council gave preliminary approval to a tax abatement for Ernest Health. Continue reading “County council gives preliminary OK to tax abatement worth about $3.1M, would still generate $3.1M of paid taxes”

The Kiln Collective: New owner for “oven of Bloomington’s industrial activation”

On Tuesday afternoon, outside the kiln building of the old Showers Brothers Furniture Company, Mike Trotzke was handed ownership to a structure that Mayor John Hamilton moments before had called the “oven of Bloomington’s industrial activation.”

Performing the handover was Bloomington’s redevelopment commission president, Don Griffin. He delivered a laugh line, which achieved its intended effect as he checked the metal on the ring: “Let’s make sure this isn’t my house key!”

The handover of the key fell to Griffin, because the RDC was the owner of the building, which it had purchased from Indiana University a few years ago along with the other real estate that makes up the Trades District. Continue reading “The Kiln Collective: New owner for “oven of Bloomington’s industrial activation””