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

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).

 

2017 Budget Order, Tax Rates, and Tax Levies Approved for Monroe County

Monroe County Courthouse at Night
Monroe County Courthouse at Night

Today Monroe County received its budget order for 2017 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)

Here is a chart showing the 2017 property tax rates by taxing district (along with the 2013-2016 rates for comparison):

screenshot-2017-02-12-19-48-06

As usual, the Ellettsville districts (the parts of Richland and Bean Blossom Townships within the incorporated boundary of the town of Ellettsville) have the highest tax rates in the County (the Bloomington City – Richland Township district is a very tiny, commercial-only area), with the Bloomington rates next in line.

However, in a departure from previous years, Washington Township no longer has the lowest property rates (that honor now belongs to Indian Creek Township). In fact, both Washington Township and Bloomington Township (the part of Bloomington Township outside of the City of Bloomington) had substantial tax rate increases in 2017 because of the newly established Northern Monroe Fire Territory.

The full budget order can be found here: monroe-county-2017-certified-budget-order

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

 

 

2017 Monroe County Budget Hearings Begin Tonight

2016 County Council MembersDear readers, I apologize for the long gap in postings here. Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Now that budget hearings are here, I’ll try to make a better effort.

Tonight is the first night of budget hearings for the Monroe County 2017 budget.

The full schedule for budget hearings is as follows:

  • Tuesday–August 30th, 2016 5:00 – 9:00 pm: County Commissioners, Veterans’ Affairs, Health, Solid Waste Management, Building Commission
  • Wednesday–August 31st, 2016 5:00 – 9:00 pm: Clerk (including Election Board), Parks, Recorder, Emergency Management, County Fair, Prosecutor, Coroner, Perry-Clear Creek Fire Protection District
  • Tuesday–September 6th, 2016 5:00 – 9:00 pm: Courts, Probation, Youth Services, Public Works/Highway (including Stormwater)
  • Monday–September 19th, 2016 5:00 – 9:00 pm: Tech Services, Extension, Weights and Measures, Sheriff, Correction Center, Assessor, Treasurer, Convention and Visitors
  • Wednesday-September 21St, 2016 5:00 – 9:00 pm: Human Resources, Planning, Legal, Aviation, Auditor, County Council
  • Thursday-September 22nd, 2016 5:00 – 9:00 pm: Public Defender, and multiple budgets considered for the new Public Safety Local Income Tax

During these times, the County Council will hear requests for the 2017 budget from county departments, and will vote on a proposed budget.

Following hearings, the budget will be formally adopted on October 11-12. At this time, tax rates and levies for county funds will also be adopted.

  • Tuesday–October 11th, 2016 5:30 – 9:00 pm(First Reading)
  • Wednesday–October 12th, 2016 5:30 – 9:00 pm

All budget hearings and adoption will be at the Nat U Hill room of the Monroe County Courthouse. All meetings are open to the public, and will be covered on CATS.

The official publication (Notice to Taxpayers) of the budget hearing and adoption notice is here:

http://budgetnotices.in.gov/ReportMaster.aspx?uid=2533&yr=2017&mode=ALL

 

 

2016 Local Income Tax Rates — How Does Monroe County Compare?

WestsideBack in 2014, when Monroe County was considering a small increase in the Juvenile County Option Income Tax, I ran a comparison of Monroe County with the other 91 counties on overall income tax rates (Income Tax Rates in Indiana Counties — How Does Monroe County Compare?). Now that we are starting to hear some calls from public safety agencies for a public safety local option income tax (which would be passed by the Bloomington City Council, not the County Council, incidentally), I thought I’d re-run the comparisons using 2016 local option income tax rates.

Here is a table showing the total combined local option income tax rates for 2016 for each county in Indiana, along with each county’s percentile.

Screenshot 2016-03-17 07.26.43
2016 Local Option Income Tax Rates by County

Monroe is at the 24th percentile rank, which basically means that Monroe County’s income tax rates are in (near the top of) the bottom quarter. Put differently, 76% of Indiana counties have a higher income tax rate than Monroe County.

So how do we compare to our neighbor counties?

Screenshot 2016-03-17 07.31.47
2016 LOIT Rates for Monroe County Neighbors

Monroe County currently has the lowest income tax rates of any of its neighbor counties.

Finally, how does Monroe County compare with its “peer” counties?

Screenshot 2016-03-17 07.35.43
2016 LOIT Rates for Monroe County Peer Counties

Obviously the definition of “peer” county is somewhat subjective, but these counties are ones that Monroe County is typically compared against, in terms of population, urbanization, demographics, etc.  In this comparison, we have the second-lowest income tax rates, second only to Vanderburgh County.

Data Source: Indiana Handbook of Taxes, Revenues, and Appropriations, Fiscal Year 2015