Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons: How to Use Them

Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons (PHBs) are pedestrian crossing signal devices that have recently been cropping up around Monroe County, most notably where the B-Line Trail ends at Country Club Road, where the Karst Farm Greenway crosses Vernal Pike, and most recently on State Road 46 North, near University Elementary School. Also sometimes called HAWK (High-Intensity Activated crossWalK) signals, these devices have been, in the words of the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), “have been shown to significantly reduce pedestrian crashes.”

However, the FHA also notes that because they are not widely used in many areas, any usage should also be accompanied by an education and outreach campaign. It has also been my experience that motorists who are unfamiliar with the device can be confused and unsure how to act when confronted by the device.

In the interests of education and outreach, here is a diagram that illustrates the phases of a PHB.

Illustration of the Phases of a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon

If you think about it, although the configuration is a little different, the signals really aren’t all that different from normal traffic signals: yellow means caution, steady red means stop, and flashing red means stop and then proceed with caution.

For more details about PHBs, here is an FHA Fact Sheet.

Catalent Plans Investment / Requests Tax Abatement from City

Catalent Indiana (formerly Cook Pharmica) is requesting a tax abatement from the City of Bloomington to support a $126M investment in the plant that occupies the former RCA/Thompson property that will create at least 200 jobs with a median wage of $24.52 and an annual payroll of $44M. Catalent is a contract pharmaceutical manufacturing company, meaning that it manufactures biologics (medicines produced from living organisms) on behalf of other companies. The company currently employs 839 (full-time).

Architect’s Rendering of the Project

The Project

The proposed investment includes $40M in real property and $85M in personal property (manufacturing equipment). Catalent describes the project in their tax abatement application as follows:

The project is comprised of two phases; Phase 1 consists of building out a 15,000 sq.ft. of ISO 9 manufacturing space and is aimed to expand Catalent, Bloomington packaging capacity and add new capabilities to support specialized device assembly for biological products produced within the site by 2020. Phase 2 is to expand Catalent, Bloomington drug product sterile filling capacity by 2022 to support. The fill/finish capacity at the Bloomington site will be expanded by 79,000 sq. ft., with both GMP [Good Manufacturing Practice, an FDA standard] and non-GMP capabilities.

Phase 1 is aimed to expand Catalent, Bloomington packaging capacity and add new capabilities to support specialized device assembly for biological products produced within the site by 2020. This will be accomplished by the purchase and installatino of a Flexible top load cartoning machine, an automated Auto-injector assembly machine, and Syringe assembly equipment. A new Quality Control laboratory will also be constructed to support the expanded production.

Phase 2 is to expand Catalent, Bloomington drug product sterile filling capacity by 2022 to support commercial launches and clinical development. A high-speed flexible vial line, utilizing both ready-to-use (RTU) components and bulk filling, will be installed along with a high-speed flexible syringe/cartridge line, and a fully automated vial inspection machine. This investment will nearly double the site capacity with over 460 additional filling days.

Application for Designation as an Economic Development Area (ERA)

The Abatement

The requested abatement is the “traditional” Indiana tax abatement, which phases in the new property taxes resulting from the company’s investment over a 10-year period (starting with 100% of the new property taxes abated in the first year, and ending with 5% in the 10th year). Using estimates based on current tax rates, the present value of the abatement over the 10-year period is around $2.6M, and the company would also pay about $2.2M in new property taxes over the same period. Tax abatements only apply to the new assessed value created by the investment; they do not reduce the existing property tax responsibility of the company.

Process

This after, the City’s Economic Development Commission (of which I am a member) reviewed the application, and heard from City Economic and Sustainable Development staff and representatives from Catalent, and forwarded on the abatement application to the City Council with a unanimously positive recommendation.

The memo from the City’s Department of Economic and Sustainable Development, which provides additional background on the application, can be found here:

In order to approve the abatement, the City Council will have to vote in favor of the application at two separate meetings (a so-called declaratory resolution and a confirmatory resolution). Most likely the soonest this could happen, if the City Council supports it, is at the March 6, 2019 meeting.

2019 Monroe County Budget Order, Tax Rates Approved

Monroe County Courthouse at Night
Monroe County Courthouse at Night

Last night, Monroe County received its 2019 Budget Order from the state, which includes:

  • The budgets for all taxing units (i.e., county, cities and towns, school districts, townships, public library, special units)
  • The property tax levies and tax rates for all taxing units
  • The property tax rates for each taxing district (i.e., the tax rates that actually affect each property owner)

The following table summarizes the total 2019 property tax rate (per $100 of net assessed value) for each taxing district in Monroe County, sorted from highest to lowest. I’ve also included the 2015-2018 tax rates for comparison.

Monroe County Property Tax Rates 2015-2019

I highlighted the taxing districts that are within incorporated municipalities in aqua.

The following are my brief observations about the 2018 tax rates:

  • Most tax rates remained about the same from 2018 to 2019 (decreased or increased less than $0.01), with two exceptions (which follow)
  • The rates for the taxing districts served by the Richland-Bean Blossom School Corporation (Ellettsville, Stinesville, and unincorporated Richland and Bean Blossom Townships). went down substantially, almost $0.25 (per $100 of assessed value). This is a result of the correction in 2019 of a bond-related tax rate error that caused rates in the areas served by R-BB to increase substantially
  • Indian Creek Township‘s rate went up almost $0.09, as a result of joining the Monroe Fire Protection District (formerly known as Perry-Clear Creek Fire Protection District)

Funding for Youth Services Expansion on Council Agenda for Tonight

Back in March, I wrote about an exciting plan for major capital improvements to Monroe County’s facilities for youth services, including the Binkley House Youth Shelter (located at 615 S Adams St).

Much has happened with this project over the last several months. An architect was hired (RQAW), the facilities were designed, and the County Commissioners have awarded a contract for construction of the new facility to Building Associates, pending funding approval by the County Council.

Architect’s rendering of the expanded youth facilities and Binkley House youth shelter

At tonight’s County Council meeting, the Council will consider the appropriation request for $2,261,000 to fund the construction. The actual bids came in quite a bit under the estimated $3M for the project. The Council will consider funding the project from three sources, all of which are earmarked specifically for funding for youth services:

  • Juvenile Per Diem Fund (which receives money from the state when youth are placed in the facility)
  • Juvenile Services Non-Reverting Fund (which received one-time money left over from the Child Welfare property tax levy when the state took over child welfare funding)
  • Juvenile Rainy Day Fund (which received certain special distributions of the Juvenile county option income tax)

None of these funds by themselves could support the entire $2.3M appropriation, but together they more than fund the project, which means that the County will not need to bond for (borrow) the money for this capital project.

When talking about youth services and our youth shelter here in Monroe County, I want to make it clear, because several constituents have asked me about it, that our youth facilities do not include any aspect of secure detention. Our Youth Services Bureau is entirely focused on supporting youth and families through advocacy, education, collaboration, and providing support to youth and families in crisis.

Monroe County’s proactive and positive approach to youth services has resulted in one of the lowest rates of youth placed in secure detention in the date, a rate radically lower than that of our peer counties.

The Monroe County Council meetings tonight, January 8, 2019 at 5:30PM in the Nat U Hill Room of the Monroe County Courthouse. The meeting will be broadcast on CATS and is open to the public. Public comment will be taken on any item on the agenda (including this proposal to fund the YSB expansion) and on topics not on the agenda.