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

Preview of Tomorrow’s Monroe County Council Meeting (2014-04-22)


Monroe County Courthouse at Night
Monroe County Courthouse at Night

The agenda and packet for tomorrow’s work session of the Monroe County Council is available here. I expect this one to be pretty interesting!

Following are the highlights of the agenda:

  • The Clerk is requesting a new position — Training Coordinator — to be created, and classified as a PAT (Professional, Administrative, and Technical) III. This is the first of 3 position-related requests that were read for the first time at the last regular meeting but not discussed or voted upon. Since a salary ordinance amendment requires a unanimous vote to pass on the first reading, and one councilor indicated that she would be voting “no” on all 3 position requests, the council chose to just do a first reading at the last meeting, and discuss and vote at the work session. The Clerk is requesting this position in lieu of two existing positions, which will then remain vacant. The Council’s Personnel Administration Committee (PAC) voted to recommend in favor of this move 3-0.
  • The Plan Commission is requesting that the Senior Planner position be moved from 35 hours per week to 40 hours per week. Most county positions are 35 hours per week; however, the Planning Director and Assistant Planning Director have already been moved to 40 hours per week. The Plan Commission’s arguments are (a) that 35 hours/week does not cover the workload (and they will be presenting documentation on the increase in filings and other demands) and (b) that the current 35 hour/week salaries are simply not high enough to compete in what is essentially a national marketplace and thus Monroe County has an extremely high turnover rate in skilled planners, to the detriment of service to the public. This request was forwarded by PAC with a 3-0 positive recommendation.
  • The Auditor is requesting that the Payroll Representative (the deputy Auditor responsible for payroll) be reclassified from a COMOT IV to a COMOT V.  The rationale for this request was the high turnover in a position that has been underclassified in the past. This request was forwarded by PAC with a 3-0 positive recommendation.
  • In what will probably be the most closely watched of the evening’s discussions, the Assessor will give a presentation to the Council that will cover (a) the assessment appeals process, (b) the status of high-profile appeals, and (c) the potential financial impact on the county and other taxing units of these high-profile appeals. This presentation was requested by the Council after the 2014-04-08 County Council Meeting, in which the Council learned that an appeal by the owner of the Fields apartment complex that had been allowed to languish for 5 years by the State was just settled by the Assessor, costing the County and other taxing units (including the City of Bloomington and MCCSC) over $700,000.
  • The Council will discuss the report recently received from the Department of Local Government Finance detailing the circuit breaker credits for Monroe County taxing units for 2014.
    • There are two types of circuit breaker credits in Indiana. One is the so-called 1%-2%-3% tax caps (that are in the Indiana Constitution), and the other is a limitation on increases in property taxes for property owners over 65 years of age. Circuit breakers represent caps on taxes for property owners, but losses of revenue for local government.
    • Although in gross terms the circuit breaker amounts for 2014 are quite low compared with many other counties, Monroe County saw a substantial increase from 2013-2014 in the 1%-2%-3% tax caps (i.e., the aggregate amount by which property owners’ taxes exceed a particular percentage of their gross assessed value — 1% for homesteaders, 2% for multifamily residential, rental, and agricultural property, and 3% for businesses):image
  •  This discussion is for information of the Council; no action will be taken
  • The Council will discuss report commissioned by the Monroe County Redevelopment Commission on a situation in the County’s Richland Economic Development Area (TIF district) in which several parcels were annexed by the City of Bloomington.
    • The City and the County developed an interlocal agreement to determine how the tax increment would be divided between the City and the County; however, after several parcel splits and renumbering, the County erred in distributing the appropriate amount of revenue between the two parties from 2009 on. The study, conducted by Financial Solutions Group (FSG), determined that the County overpaid the City by $441,191.70 during the period of 2009-2013. The County would recoup this overpayment by withholding distributions in 2014. This discussion is for the Council’s information; we do not have any action or vote to take.
    • The FSG report can be found here: Binder of MONROE COUNTY (ANALYSIS OF PAY 2009-2013 RICHLAND CITY TIF REV
  • The Council will further discuss a proposal to increase the Juvenile County Option Income Tax (JCOIT) from 0.05% to 0.95%. This was originally discussed in the 2014-04-08 County Council Meeting. The Council will be discussing which expenses can appropriately be moved into the JCOIT fund. The committee I created to study the issue of which juvenile expenses can and should be paid for from JCOIT revenues (Councilors Yoder, Hawk, and Jones) will give a report of their findings. No action will be taken at this meeting; a vote is anticipated at the regular County Council meeting on 2014-05-13.


Agenda for Tomorrow’s Monroe County Council Meeting (2014-02-11)

Monroe County Courthouse in the Fall
Monroe County Courthouse in the Fall

The agenda for tomorrow’s Monroe County Council meeting is available here:

Highlights include:

  • Monroe County Council appointment to the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA)
  • An additional appropriation of $15,000 for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) from the Juvenile Services Nonreverting Fund
  • A request from the County Commissioners to retain (rather than revert to the General Fund) the balance from the Showers Building/Johnson Hardware fund for 2013. The Showers Building/Johnson Hardware fund receives the rental income from tenants in the Showers Building and the Johnson Hardware Building.
  • An additional appropriation of $15,910 from the Cable Franchise Fees fund to support CATS (Community Access Television Service); this is a correction of an error in the CATS appropriation during budget hearings.
  • Deappropriation of almost $830,000 from the Cumulative Capital Development Fund; this fund has been over-budgeted compared to available revenue, and so the budget must be pared down.
  • Approval of a 5-year lease from the county to the Convention and Visitors Bureau (Visit Bloomington) for the Visitors’ Center on North Walnut. Previous leases have been 2-year leases.
  • An additional appropriation out of the Motor Vehicle and Highway (MHV) fund for a supplement to be paid to snow and ice removal employees to compensate them for not being allowed to take any vacation time between December and March.

The meeting will be tomorrow, Tuesday, 2014-02-11, at 5:30PM in the Nat U Hill Room of the Monroe County Courthouse. Public comment on items not on the agenda will be taken at the beginning of the meeting. Hope to see you there!