Update on County Trail Projects

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Me Pointing at Potential New Multiuse Trail Connecting 2nd Street and Karst Farm Greenway

Last week I gave a presentation to the Bloomington Bicycle Club at their annual meeting, giving an update on a number of County (and one City thrown in there) infrastructure projects with a bike/pedestrian component. This is only a sample — there are more. Since several people asked for copies of that presentation I thought I’d make it available here: BBC Presentation 2018-02-10.

Please note that all of the maps are ones that I made for illustrative purposes. None are official, and project plans may change for any variety of reasons.

Among other projects, I talked about the the Limestone Greenway/Illinois Central corridor south of the Bloomington Rail Trail, the Monon Corridor connecting the Karst Farm Greenway with Ellettsville, and several westside road projects that will have multiuse paths and sidewalk facilities accompanying them. I also discussed a potential project that is still in the conceptual stages that would connect the multiuse path on the north side of Second Street/Bloomfield Road with the Karst Farm Greenway, via Liberty Drive. Here is the map I drew of that potential project:

Screenshot 2018-02-15 16.04.42

Also gave an update on the Vernal Pike Greenway project, that will connect Will Detmer Park (where the existing multiuse path along Vernal Pike ends) to the Karst Farm Greenway. This path will provide multiuse facilities along one of two remaining breaks between the City’s B-Line Trail and the County’s Karst Farm Greenway. This project, after long delays, will finally go into construction this year (2018), and will feature an historic truss bridge over the Indiana Railroad tracks just west of Curry Pike, very similar to this bridge (the actual bridge to be used is in pieces in a warehouse at the moment):

Screenshot 2018-02-16 08.39.10
Historic Truss Bridge to be Used on Vernal Pike Greenway

Finally talked about a City of Bloomington trail project that will run south of Winslow, parallel to and just to the east of the Bloomington Rail Trail.

Screenshot 2018-02-16 08.44.53
City of Bloomington’s Planned Southern B-Line Extension

The idea is to maintain the existing Bloomington Rail Trail’s soft surface, which is beloved by walkers and runners, and create a paved trail in the old CSX railroad corridor parallel to and just to the east of the Rail Trail. This corridor was given to the City by Monroe County in a land swap for the Illinois Central corridor south of Church Lane that the County is currently developing as a trail. The paved surface will be much more usable by cyclists, strollers, wheelchairs, etc. I’ve been told by City Parks and Recreation Officials that this project is slated for 2020, although the corridor has already been cleared by City of Bloomington Utilities for a sewer interceptor project.

Here is a link to a drone flight I took over the corridor.

It was a great opportunity to update the cycling community on many exciting Monroe County projects — and I was also accompanied in the presentation with the City of Bloomington Bicycle Coordinator Beth Rosenbarger, who gave us an update on numerous bike/ped developments and initiatives in the City of Bloomington.

2018 Monroe County Budget Order, Tax Rates Set

Monroe County Courthouse at Night
Monroe County Courthouse at Night

Last Friday, Monroe County received its 2018 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 2018 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 2015-2017 tax rates for comparison.

Screenshot 2018-02-13 15.28.36

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

The rates for most taxing districts went up, at least partially because the maximum civil levy statewide increased by 4% (this is sort of like a cost-of-living increase for local government operating funds), and because the County established a new Major Bridge Fund for 2018 (with a tax rate of $0.0333).

The two exceptions, in which the rates went down for 2018, were Bloomington Township (unincorporated) and Washington Township. This is because of the Northern Monroe Fire Territory, which first began in 2017. The first year’s tax rates of a new fire territory are typically the highest, both because the territory needs to collect more than it needs for the year in order to create an operating reserve, and because the local income tax (LIT) associated with the new property taxes of the fire territory doesn’t come in until the next year. Bloomington and Washington Township residents thus saw a large increase in property taxes for 2017 over 2016.

Because during the second year of the fire territory (a) the territory doesn’t need to collect extra for reserves and (b) the township providing fire services (Bloomington Township) receives additional LIT, the property tax rates for the second year can be reduced, and thus both Washington Township and Bloomington Township saw overall reductions in their 2018 property tax rates over 2017.

Drone Use and Local Governments: Secretive Task Force Founders

Screenshot 2017-10-24 08.04.10I have become quite interested in the intersection between drones (“unmanned aerial vehicles”) and local government regulation lately, and will be using this blog to post news and developments that cut new ground in this area.

Yesterday’s Washington Post featured an article about a secretive subcommittee (so-called “Task Group 1 of the Drone Advisory Committee”) that has been tasked by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with making recommendations about the manner in which state and local governments should be able to regulate drone use : A U.S. drone advisory group has been meeting in secret for months. It hasn’t gone well.

TL;DR version:

  • The Federal Government (through the FAA) has exclusive jurisdiction over US airspace, under the principle that you can’t have each and every local jurisdiction passing laws and regulations about the airspace above it.
  • Open question that the proliferation of drones pose is whether the Federal Government should allow local governments to control the airspace at ultra-low altitudes — usually under 400 feet above ground level — that is — should local governments be able to specify when, where, and under what conditions drones should be able to fly
  • FAA formed the Drone Advisory Committee to study and make recommendations on integrating drones into the US airspace.
  • The committee created a task force to study and come to consensus upon an approach to the balance of regulation between the FAA and state/local government with respect to ultra-low altitude airspace, in preparation for a pilot initiative to give local/state governments more control over drone regulation.
  • The task force composition and conduct have come under fire, even from within the task force. It appears to be heavily laden with industry lobbyists, and in fact is co-chaired by a lobbyist for DJI, a major Chinese drone manufacturer that makes pretty much every drone you can buy at your local big box store. Members have been asked to sign strict confidentiality agreements, which triggered something of a revolt by dissenters (which included the National Association of Counties).
  • It isn’t clear what the next step is — however, what is clear is that the debate between 100% federal regulation of ultra-low altitude airspace and some local government regulation will continue.

 

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).

 

Public-Private Partnership Set for Colorado Central 70 Project

Central70Narrow2This is just a quick update on a previous story. A few months ago I wrote about a major highway project in Colorado (between downtown Denver and Denver International Airport) that was planning on using a public-private partnership (P3) very similar in structure to that of the now-failed I-69 Development Partners selected to develop I-69 Section 5: Major Public-Private Partnership Highway Project Under Consideration in Colorado: Sounds Like Deja Vu All Over Again. The most interesting aspect of the $1.2B project is the lowering and covering of the interstate at one point, and the creation of a 4 acre park that connects two formerly disconnected neighborhoods on top of the cover.

Recently, Kiewit Meridiam Partners was selected to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain the Central 70 project. You can find the press release here.

It will be interesting to monitor the progress of this P3, and compare performance vs. the failed I-69 Development Partners. During the debate here in Indiana, while many blamed the selected contractor, others blame the very nature of a public-private partnership for road construction. The Central 70 project will serve as a useful comparison.

 

Bridge Beams Set for Sample Road over I-69 Southbound (Video)

Screenshot 2017-07-22 11.58.46Yesterday, the 4 beams were set for portion of the Sample Road interchange that will go over I-69 southbound. The northbound beams will be set at a later date.

While I’m sure that watching road construction is like watching paint dry for most people, beam setting is really a pretty impressive and precision operation, involving 2 cranes.

Here is a video I made of the operation from my drone. I did my best to condense 2 hours of work into a 9 minute video:

Beam Setting at Sample Road
Click the Image for the Video

 

Thank you very much to INDOT and Keramida (engineering firm) for allowing me to film this operation from my drone safely. In particular, thanks to Sandra Flum, Mark Flick, and Bruce Winningham.

Here is a map that shows approximately where the beams were set:

Screenshot 2017-09-09 07.48.54
Sample Road and State Road 37 (Future I-69)

The beams were set for the bridge over the future southbound lane, which is west of the existing southbound lane. The northbound lane will become a frontage road and the current southbound lane will become the future northbound lane in this area.

2018 Local Income Tax (LIT) Numbers for Monroe County Show Strong Economic Growth

One of the numbers that nearly all local governments eagerly await each year before setting budgets is the amount of local income tax (LIT) it will be receiving for the ensuing year. While this information arrives in several stages of increasing refinement, the first indicator that counties receive is the estimate of local income taxes for the county as a whole for the budget year by the Indiana State Budget Agency.

Today, Indiana counties received their 2018 Certified Distribution estimates from the State Budget Agency. Here is a table summarizing these estimates and comparing them to the 2017 certified distributions for Monroe County:

Screenshot 2017-08-01 19.29.30

These numbers represent very good news for Monroe County residents. The overall increase in local income tax collections for Monroe County is 4.27%, demonstrating robust growth in the income earned by Monroe County residents.

Just as a reminder, Monroe County’s local income tax (LIT) rates are as follows:

  • Expenditure – Certified Shares: 0.9482%
  • Expenditure – Public Safety: 0.2500%
  • Expenditure – Economic Development: 0%
  • Property Tax Relief: 0.0518%
  • Special Purpose (for Monroe County, this rate is for juvenile services): 0.095%
  • Total Income Tax Rate: 1.345%

The amounts shown in the table above will be distributed to various local government units:

  • Certified shares will be distributed to all civil taxing units except Solid Waste District, which means the county, cities and towns, townships, the public library, Perry-Clear Creek Fire Protection District, and Bloomington Transit
  • Public safety will be distributed first to the Dispatch Center (in a percentage determined by the Monroe County Income Tax Council), then to township fire departments (in an amount determined by the Income Tax Council), and then among the county and the three cities and towns (Bloomington, Ellettsville, and Stinesville).
  • Property Tax Relief will be used to offset the property taxes of homestead properties
  • Special Purpose goes to juvenile services in Monroe County, which includes youth services (including the Binkley House Youth Shelter), juvenile probation, and juvenile courts

The State Budget Agency will provide updated numbers to Indiana counties before October 1.