Bloomington city council completes routine maintenance on public safety income tax rate, total still 0.25 percent

At its meeting on Wednesday, Bloomington’s city council completed its annual adjustment to the public safety local income tax (PS-LIT) rate.

The total rate that residents of Monroe County pay on their income for public safety stays the same, which is 0.25 percent.

But the way the rate is split—between funding for the countywide dispatch center and general public safety—was tweaked to fit the 2021 budget request by the dispatch center.

The dispatch center—known as a public safety answering point, or PSAP—needed $2,247,490 in PS-LIT revenue for its 2021 budget. The rate corresponding to that amount, based on estimates released in September by the state’s department of revenue, is 0.0594 percent.

The remaining revenue, generated by the other 0.1906 of the 0.25 total rate gets divided by city, county and town governments for general public safety purposes.

That’s a smidgen higher rate for general public safety purposes than last year’s 0.1846 percent, due to a slight decrease in the dispatch center’s overall budget.

Continue reading “Bloomington city council completes routine maintenance on public safety income tax rate, total still 0.25 percent”

Monroe County councilors take unanimous, futile vote to support rural fire departments

Monroe County councilors voted 7–0 Monday night in favor of a resolution supporting the direct allocation of about $353,700 in public safety local income tax (PS-LIT) revenues to four rural fire departments in the county.

The county council took the vote as a member of the tax council, which includes two other governing bodies in the county—the Bloomington city council and the Ellettsville town council.

Monday night’s vote will not have an impact on how the roughly $7.8 million in PS-LIT revenues will be allocated.

That’s because a seven-member PS-LIT committee of the tax council had already voted 5–2 to recommend no allocation of direct funding to the rural fire departments. Also, the statutory deadline for the tax council to make the direct allocation for the funding of rural fire departments is Aug. 31.

Acknowledging the futility of Monday’s vote, president of the county council Eric Spoonmore said, “A lot of people would probably say: Well, why are you all even having this meeting? The city council is already made the decision. It doesn’t make any sense. And it’s pointless.”

Spoonmore’s answer: “Well, to me, there is a point to all of this, and it’s to show my support. And this is our last final opportunity to do that. And I’m very happy to do so.”

On the PS-LIT committee, it was the votes of four Bloomington city councilmembers, plus one from an Ellettsville town councilor, that blocked the recommendation for the same kind of funding for rural fire departments that had been forthcoming in the last couple of years.

The departure from the prevailing  custom was lamented on Monday night by county council president Eric Spoonmore. A big part of what had persuaded him to vote in favor of the PS-LIT increase in 2016 was knowing that the rural fire departments would benefit, Spoonmore said.

Spoonmore called the PS-LIT committee’s decision “disappointing to say the least,” but hoped this year’s allocation would be just a “temporary situation.”

Given his expectations connected to his 2016 support of the tax increase, and the lack of allocation this year, Spoonmore added, “It makes me feel almost a little hoodwinked…”

Continue reading “Monroe County councilors take unanimous, futile vote to support rural fire departments”

Factual corrections to statements about fire protection tax allocations sought by Monroe County councilors

Last week, a committee of the Monroe County tax council voted against a recommendation to allocate $353,700 of public safety local income tax (PS-LIT) money to support requests made by four rural fire departments in the county.

The news was not embraced by the Monroe County council at their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday. The review of applications for funding had been delegated to the county council, and it was the county council’s recommendations that the PS-LIT committee rejected.

County council president Eric Spoonmore called the tax council’s committee vote “incredibly unfortunate, frustrating, disappointing.” Spoonmore added, “I thought the recommendations that were made were thoughtful…and that the proposals that were put forth by the rural fire departments were very much necessary.”

Councilor Geoff McKim said there were some “materially incorrect” statements made during the committee meeting that need to be corrected on the record, before a final vote is taken.

McKim and Cheryl Munson represented the county council on the committee, casting the only two votes in favor of direct allocations to rural fire departments. Continue reading “Factual corrections to statements about fire protection tax allocations sought by Monroe County councilors”

On split vote, public safety income tax committee recommends: No “off-the-top” allocations this year for rural fire departments

A committee of the Monroe County tax council voted Tuesday morning against a recommendation to allocate $353,700 of public safety income tax money to support requests made by four rural fire departments in the county.

cropped PSLIT meeting Screen Shot 2020-08-04 at 11.04.32 PM
Screenshot of the Aug. 4 meeting of the PS-LIT committee of the local income tax council of Monroe County. It was conducted on the Zoom video conferencing platform.

The potential direct allocation of funds to the fire departments would have made up about 4.5 percent of the $7.8 million that the committee was using as a conservative estimate for the total amount it could allocate for 2021.

The distribution of local income tax revenues for 2021 is based on 2019 income tax filings, which have been delayed because of relaxed deadlines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The vote on the seven-member PS-LIT (public safety local income tax) committee was 2–5 for the direct allocation of the funds to the Monroe County Fire Protection District, and fire departments serving Richland, Bean Blossom, and Benton townships.

The tally flipped to 5–2 for the committee’s vote on its recommended allocations for 2021 public safety income tax revenue.

The dispatch center—which is a public safety answering point (PSAP)—is recommended to receive its requested budget of $2,247,490.

The remaining amount is recommended to be divided, through a property-tax-footprint-based formula, among Bloomington, Monroe County, Ellettsville and Stinesville. In round numbers, that works out to about $2.8 million for Bloomington, $2.5 million for Monroe County government, $165,000 for Ellettsville and $1,100 for Stinesville. Continue reading “On split vote, public safety income tax committee recommends: No “off-the-top” allocations this year for rural fire departments”

Council Preview Aug. 28, 2019: Buses, fire allocations from public safety income tax

Two agenda items appear for a second reading and final vote on the Bloomington’s city council’s agenda for Wednesday.

One is an appropriation ordinance for Bloomington Transit buses—BT won some competitive federal grants totaling $900,000. That makes the ordinance amount about $1.13 million because of the 20-percent local share that BT will need to contribute towards the cost of the three new buses—two for its BT Access para-transit service and one for the fixed-route service. The fixed-route service bus is a battery electric bus. All three buses are replacement vehicles, not part of a fleet expansion. [Previous Beacon coverage: 1 2]

The second agenda item is one piece of the approvals the city council will need to make for the allocation of public safety local income tax funds. The income tax rate of 0.25 percent is estimated to generate about $8.65 million countywide. On Wednesday, the council will be asked to approve $389,461 worth of funding from that tax revenue—it’s the portion that goes to “qualified service providers.” In practical terms, that means the money will go to a half dozen different fire departments in the county.

Legislative packets with detailed background are available on the city council’s document page.
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