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.

Monroe County 2019 Budget Advertised in Advance of Budget Hearing

Monroe County Courthouse
Monroe County Courthouse in the Fall

Today, Monroe County published its official advertisement of its proposed 2019 budget and tax levies, in advance of the public hearing scheduled for Tuesday, October 2, 2018 at 5:30 PM in the Nat U Hill Room of the Monroe County Courthouse.

The official advertisement (“Notice to Taxpayers”) provides a total budget and tax levy (the amount of property taxes to be collected) for each fund. Not all funds receive property taxes. Note that the tax levies are frequently advertised higher than the level at which the County Council will actually adopt them, in order to give the Council flexibility (after advertisement, budgets and levies can only be decreased, not increased). 

While the Notice to Taxpayers includes a summary of the proposed budget by fund, the following report provides line-by-line detail of the budget to be considered:

The following is a summary of the major changes to the budget from 2018 to 2019:

  • Addition of 5 corrections officers to the Monroe County Jail, in order to alleviate understaffing concerns (paid out of the Public Safety Local Income Tax/PS-LIT). More staff means a more humane environment for everyone – the existing staff, those incarcerated, and the families of those incarcerated. We’ll have to look closely and see if that is enough. I suspect we’ll have to revisit the jail staffing levels over the next year. 
  • Addition of 1 audit coordinator position in the Auditor’s Office, to improve internal compliance, along with a move of an employee in the financial division of the office from 35 hours to 40 hours.
  • Addition of 1 tech services (IT) technician who will focus on jail and justice-related applications.
  • Move of 2 probation officer positions in Community Corrections, along with some hourly staff and electronic monitoring fees out of unsustainable user fee funds into tax-supported funds. This was my number one priority for this budget. We need to support alternatives to incarceration, and base funding for Community Corrections is one of those ways that the Council can demonstrate our commitment. One of the reasons why the user fee funds are no longer sustainable is because of the partial elimination of the use of cash bail, which is a very positive development.
  • Similarly, move of 1/2 a position in the Prosecutor’s Office to the General Fund, out of Pretrial Diversion fees. This represents the conclusion of almost a decade-long effort to move essential positions in the Prosecutor’s Office out of unsustainable user fee funds.
  • Increase in the costs of providing employee health care from $9800 to $10,200 per full-time employee.
  • Cost of living increase for county employees (including elected officials) of 1.7%. This number represents the change in Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the midwest region from December to the previous December. This is the benchmark that the County Council uses for cost of living. We have spent a lot of effort over the past two years increasing employee salaries in various ways, and it is important that we don’t let county employees’ salaries erode due to inflation.
  • Addition of 3 shift supervisor positions and funding of capital equipment projects in the Unified City/County Dispatch Center. The positions will actually be City of Bloomington employees.
  • Funding of the 2019 municipal election. Each year, the budget of the Election Board is different, depending on the specifics of each election year. In municipal election years, a substantial portion of the costs of the election will be reimbursed by the City of Bloomington and potentially the Town of Ellettsville. 
  • Addition of a second K-9 unit in the Sheriff’s Department, funded by the PS-LIT.

If there is anything that attracts your interest that I didn’t cover in this summary, please let me know, and I’ll be happy to explain!

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, a public hearing will be held on this proposed budget on Tuesday, October 2, 2018 at 5:30 PM in the Nat U Hill Room of the Monroe County Courthouse. The public is invited to read the above proposed budget, and make comment, either at the public hearing, or beforehand to any or all of their County Council representatives

Annual Report and Presentation on the Monroe County Jail Today

The Monroe County Correctional Center and the criminal justice system that feeds it has been on my mind a lot lately. Each day, the jail reports the number of people in custody, in several different categories (e.g., secure beds, program beds, detox, etc.). Because many people are in the jail for a very short period of time, the numbers vary widely over time. Today’s count of individuals in secure beds was a whopping 290, out of a rated capacity of 248. On the other hand, that count was “only” in the low 230s back in mid-March. Clearly some of that dramatic increase is due to the combination of the onset of good weather combined with IU’s Little 500.

But even factoring out localizes spikes in jail population, it is clear that we are seeing a longer-term secular increase. Recently the County Council received the statutorily-mandated 2017 Monroe County Correctional Center Annual Jail Report.  The report is definitely worth reading in its entirety — it provides a good overview both of the programs provided in the jail as well as the staffing challenges, which are of significant concern to the County Council. Unsurprisingly, though, what stands out most from the report is the average population count over time:

Screenshot 2018-04-24 06.25.35

After a period of relative stability, we see a fairly dramatic overall increase, undoubtedly overlapping with the growth of the opioid epidemic. There have also been statutory changes in Indiana that have made local jails responsible for some people convicted of felonies who used to be the responsibility of the Department of Corrections. Clearly this growth rate is unsustainable. There are many stakeholders in Monroe County who are working on various initiatives, both present and future, to help keep the jail population down, including community corrections, treatment and recovery, pre-trial release, various diversion programs, etc. I want to highlight some of these initiatives in the near future, and grow and fund those that have been proven to be effective.

Tonight’s work session of the Monroe County Council will feature a presentation from Jail Commander Sam Crowe, who will highlight some of the initiatives and programs in the jail, and address questions from Councilmembers about the report. Of course the jail is only one component of a complex system including lawmakers, police, prosecutors, public defenders, the judiciary, and probation and community corrections, I encourage members of the public to read this report and watch the presentation tonight.

The County Council work session is at 5:30PM tonight, April 24, 2018, at the Nat U Hill Room in the Monroe County Courthouse. The meeting is open to the public, and will also be televised on CATS.

Monroe County 2018 Budget Adoption — This Week and

2016 County Council MembersThe Monroe County Council will be adopting the 2018 budget for Monroe County this week and next. First reading of the budget, along with property tax rates and levies, will be Tuesday, October 24th, 2017 at 5:30PM in the Nat U Hill Room of the Monroe County Courthouse. Second reading and final vote will be Monday, October 30th, 2017, also at 5:30PM in the Nat U Hill Room. Public comment will be taken at both readings!

The Council will be voting on a $70.5M budget, spread across 51 different funds. Each fund has its own set of revenue sources associated with it, including property tax, income tax, public safety income tax, gas tax, fees for service, stormwater fees, etc.

The following table summarizes the total proposed budget to be voted on by fund. Note that for property tax funds, because of a quirk in the way that the state systems report on the property tax circuit breakers (“tax caps”), the revenue loss from the circuit breaker is actually represented as a budgetary expense.

Fund Amount
0101 – GENERAL $33,337,946
0102 – ELECTION/REGISTRATION $881,708
0124 – 2015 REASSESSMENT $731,477
0182 – BOND #2 $2,057,150
0183 – BOND #3 $1,021,096
0254 – JUVENILE INCOME TAX $2,787,355
0702 – HIGHWAY $6,826,644
0706 – LOCAL ROAD & STREET $1,650,000
0790 – CUMULATIVE BRIDGE $560,860
0792 – COUNTY MAJOR BRIDGE $40,393
0801 – HEALTH $1,280,235
1001 – CIVIC CENTER $2,037,910
2002 – COUNTY FAIR $111,440
2102 – AVIATION/AIRPORT $988,214
2391 – CUMULATIVE CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT $3,134,988
9500 – Extradition and Sheriffs Assis $8,046
9501 – Surveyors Corner Perpetuation $62,921
9502 – County Per Diems-YSB $46,250
9503 – Monroe County 911 Fund $862,635
9504 – MC Convention Center Debt $636,000
9505 – Auditors Ineligible Deductions $24,500
9508 – User Fee – Jury Pay $14,500
9509 – User Fees – Juv. Probation $18,883
9510 – User Fees – Adult Probation $317,351
9511 – User Fees – Project Income/Job $687,781
9512 – Supplemental P. D. Services $895,680
9513 – Clerks Record Perpetuation $112,569
9514 – User Fees-Diversion/Pros. $317,080
9515 – User Fees-Court Alcohol/Drug $291,709
9516 – Local Health Maintenance $72,672
9517 – Emergency Planning/Right to Know $15,900
9519 – Misdemeanant/Co Corr $117,450
9520 – Home-Rule Fund #21 $10,000
9521 – Alternative Dispute Resolution $21,000
9522 – Sales Disclosure-County Share $35,765
9523 – Conv. Visitor Cap Imp/Maint $100,000
9524 – County Offender Transportation $3,000
9525 – Local Health Dept Trust Accoun $56,424
9526 – User Fees-Problem Solving Courts $35,124
9527 – Westside Econ Dev/Rich Twp TIF $1,554,278
9528 – 46 Corridor Econ Dev/Blgtn Twp TIF $343,649
9529 – Fullerton Pike Econ Dev / TIF $95,522
9530 – Plat Book $29,118
9531 – Convention Center Operating $554,688
9532 – User Fees-Cable Franchise $699,676
9533 – Showers Building Operating $214,503
9544 – Identification Security Protection $5,500
9547 – Park Nonreverting Capital $60,000
9552 – Storm Water Management $2,753,116
9559 – County Elected Officials Train $30,000
9571 – Public Safety Income Tax $1,980,616
UNIT TOTAL $70,531,322

The full proposed budget, line item by item, can be found in 2018 Monroe County Budget Estimate (Form 1 ). Look at the column labeled “Adopted”.

If you have any questions or concerns about this budget, please contact me or any other member of the Monroe County Council. And again you can make public comment on this budget Tuesday evening (10/24) and Monday evening (10/30).

 

County Council to Adopt 2017 Budget Tuesday and Wednesday

2016 County Council MembersOn Tuesday (10/11/2016) and Wednesday (10/12/2016), the County Council will adopt Monroe County’s 2017 budget. Tuesday will feature first reading of the budget, including council discussion and public comment. Wednesday will feature final adoption of the budget. In addition to adopting the budget, the Council will also be adopting the 2017 property tax rates and levies, as well as the 2017 salary ordinance for county employees.

The Council is considering a $67,975,340 overall budget for 2017. This is spread across 51 different funds, the General Fund being the largest by a long shot, at $32,059,390.

There are a few numbers in the state Gateway system that are still being corrected this morning, so I’m not yet publishing the complete list of budgets and tax rates and levies (but will later this morning).

Here is the General Fund budget to be adopted by the Council tonight and tomorrow night:

Monroe County 2017 General Fund Budget for Adoption
Monroe County 2017 General Fund Budget for Adoption

Note: This chart is $2 off from the official Gateway numbers to be adopted, due to differences in rounding methodology, but it shows the budget in a more compact form than the official Gateway reports.

I’ll publish more numbers as they are available, including the proposed tax rates and levies, and the Public Safety Local Income Tax budget.

Budget Adoption begins tonight (Tuesday) at 5:30 PM in the Nat U Hill room of the Monroe County Courthouse. Public comment will be taken, and the meeting will be broadcast on CATS. The budget adoption meeting will be followed by a regular meeting of the Monroe County Council.

What Are the Spending Priorities of the County?

Monroe County Courthouse at Night
Monroe County Courthouse at Night

The Monroe County Council is in the middle of budget hearings for 2017, so it seems an ideal time to talk about what the county spends money on. It is almost a truism that budgets reflect priorities, and to some degree that is accurate. I’ve always struggled with representing the county budget, though, in a manner that actually does reflect county spending priorities, rather than the statutory requirements of various funding sources, grant availability, and so on. A better picture of spending priorities, in my mind, consists of those expenditures among which tradeoffs can be made, and I’ve included a chart of these expenditures by department below.

In order to do that, I included all of the budgets under the so-called “frozen levy“. In essence, these are the budgets that the County Council can make priority decisions. As an example, Monroe County’s total adopted budget was $63,165,714 in 2016. However, a substantial portion of this includes highway funds, which can’t be spent for any purpose other than roads. So although roads are a critical priority for county government, I didn’t include them in this table, because road funding can’t be traded off against any other funding. I also included voter registration and election costs because, although not actually part of the General Fund or the frozen levy, these functions are entirely dependent on cash that would otherwise go to the General Fund (or other funds in the frozen levy).

There is another very important caveat to these numbers: they reflect the operational costs of running county government. Capital items, with the one exception of the Cumulative Bridge Fund, which is included in this data, are almost entirely funded through other means, including the Cumulative Capital Development fund or bonds, both of which are supported by additional property tax levies.

So here is how Monroe County prioritizes tax revenues, based on the 2017 budget so far. Budget hearings are still ongoing, however, so these numbers can and will change as budgeting decisions are made.

Screenshot 2016-09-02 13.02.26
Snapshot of Monroe County 2017 budget requests for functions in the frozen levy, plus election and voter registration costs, midway through 2017 budget hearings, in descending order of budget amount

Proposed 2017 Monroe County Budget

2016 County Council MembersAs I mentioned earlier today, Monroe County begins its annual hearings  for the 2017 budget tonight at 5PM. Below are the proposed budgets and tax levies that have been advertised for consideration. (*)

Each fund is listed separately. Money from each fund generally can’t be intermingled (with a few exceptions). The Budget Estimate column is the total estimated budget for that fund for 2017. The Maximum Levy column is the maximum amount of property taxes that can be  collected from this fund. Current Tax Levy is the 2016 property tax levy for the fund. Funds that have a 0 in the levy columns are supported by sources of funds other than property tax, including income taxes, fees for service, fines, hotel bed taxes, etc.

The only exceptions are the three Economic Development funds — Westside, 46 Corridor, and Fullerton Pike. These are the three county tax increment finance (TIF) districts, and so the revenues collected are property taxes — however the money that goes into the TIF  districts are property taxes that otherwise would go into other units and funds — the county general, townships, etc.

The other thing to note is that the actual budgets and property tax levies that get adopted will be at or below these advertised budgets and levies. The Council is only allowed to reduce budgets during budget hearings, not increase them — hence the standard practice of “advertising high” to give the Council some flexibility during budget hearings.

The total budget advertised across all funds is $73,716,871. By comparison, the actual budget adopted in 2016 was $63,165,714. I would anticipate that the advertised $73M will be brought down during budget hearings.

The largest change in this budget from previous years is the inclusion of the budget for the Public Safety Local Option Income Tax (PS-LOIT), which is advertised at $3,751,926, well over the revenue that the PS-LOIT would actually generate. In addition, because of procedural issues that I don’t have time right now to get into detail on, the PS-LOIT for 2017 has not actually been adopted or approved by the state. The Council will have to be very cautious about budgeting for this fund, and any decisions made will be contingent upon final approval by the state of the PS-LOIT.

Advertised 2017 Monroe County Budget and Levies:

Fund Name Budget Estimate Maximum Levy Current Tax Levy
0101-GENERAL $34,554,828 $17,087,500 $16,388,259
0102-ELECTION/REGISTRATION $493,839 $0 $0
0124-2015 REASSESSMENT $721,063 $650,000 $495,413
0181-DEBT PAYMENT $1,009,000 $1,009,000 $1,413,578
0182-BOND #2 $2,040,000 $2,040,000 $1,908,991
0183-BOND #3 $1,030,000 $1,515,000 $0
0616-CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU $1,979,937 $0 $0
0702-HIGHWAY $5,464,930 $0 $0
0706-LOCAL ROAD & STREET $2,087,050 $0 $0
0790-CUMULATIVE BRIDGE $489,632 $1,406,973 $1,406,973
0801-HEALTH $1,242,199 $535,000 $535,046
1310-PARK NONREVERTING – CAPITAL $60,000 $0 $0
2002-COUNTY FAIR $105,270 $105,000 $85,872
2102-AVIATION/AIRPORT $957,490 $500,000 $429,358
2391-CUMULATIVE CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT $2,922,088 $2,510,092 $2,173,211
9500-Extradition $7,691 $0 $0
9501-Surveyor’s Corner $18,230 $0 $0
9502-County Per Diems $46,250 $0 $0
9503-Monroe County E-911 $929,606 $0 $0
9504-Convention Center Debt $636,000 $0 $0
9505-Auditor’s Ineligible Deductions $29,500 $0 $0
9506-Juvenile Facility COIT $2,697,147 $0 $0
9507-Juvenile Services Non-reverting $0 $0 $0
9508-Jury Pay $14,500 $0 $0
9509-Juvenile Probation $18,883 $0 $0
9510-Probation User Fees-Adult $410,478 $0 $0
9511-Project Income-Job Release $737,249 $0 $0
9512-Supplemental Public Defender Fee $923,845 $0 $0
9513-Clerk’s Perpetuation $111,913 $0 $0
9514-Diversion User Fees $476,176 $0 $0
9515-Court Alcohol/Drug Svcs Fees $367,706 $0 $0
9516-Health Maintenance $72,672 $0 $0
9517-Emergency Plan and Right To Know $15,900 $0 $0
9518-Stormwater Management $1,576,324 $0 $0
9519-County Corrections/Misdemeanant $80,518 $0 $0
9520-County Elected Officials Training $30,000 $0 $0
9521-Alternative Dispute Resolution $21,000 $0 $0
9522-County Assessor/R.E. Disclosure $50,765 $0 $0
9523-Convention/Visitors Capital Imp/Maint $100,000 $0 $0
9524-County Offender Transportation $3,000 $0 $0
9525-Health Tobacco Cessation $54,416 $0 $0
9526-Problem Solving Court $35,124 $0 $0
9527-Westside Economic Development $1,999,166 $0 $0
9528-46 Corridor Economic Development $258,775 $0 $0
9529-Fullerton Pike Economic Development $1,581,894 $0 $0
9530-Plat Book $0 $0 $0
9531-Convention Center Revenue $577,688 $0 $0
9532-Cable Franchise Fees $714,982 $0 $0
9533-Showers Building Operating $204,721 $0 $0
9544-Identification Security Protection $5,500 $0 $0
9599-Public Safety LOIT $3,751,926 $0 $0
Totals $73,716,871 $27,358,565 $24,836,701

(*) This chart was adapted from our official advertisement, which can be found here: http://budgetnotices.in.gov/ReportMaster.aspx?uid=2533&yr=2017&mode=ALL