Last night the Bloomington City Council had its first public conversation about whether to support a new local income tax. The point-two-five percent tax would provide more funding to the Monroe County 911 Dispatch Center. Some of the money would also theoretically go to police, fire departments and courts throughout the County. But it’s not clear exactly how the majority of the money would be spent, except that it would be spent on “public safety.” During the discussion last night, City Council member Alison Chopra pressed for a long range plan.
“when you’re asking for that much money, I would love to see a plan, five year, ten year…just saying we want money and we need it is great but I was hoping for something more concrete, ” said Chopra.
City Controller Jeff Underwood responded to questions from the Council. Underwood said a more detailed plan would be provided when the city considers its next budget, but he says the City has more than $100 million in unfunded capital needs beyond the ongoing needs of the police and fire departments.
“We know right now we have over the next six years over 5.2 million dollars worth of capital needs in police and fire alone…we intend to initially dedicate those funds to capital needs of the city,” said Underwood.
30 percent of the roughly 7 million dollars in annual tax revenue would be allocated for the 911 Dispatch Center. Council member Dorothy Granger pressed for a more detailed proposal for the 70% percent of the tax that would go to general public safety initiatives. Granger is also a paid staff member at WFHB.
“Can you do a draft budget of how you perceive you would spend a certain amount of money? I guess I’m uncomfortable saying ok, I think this is a great idea…I know we have huge police needs, I know we have these needs, but I’d really like to know where the money is going,” said Granger.
If the City Council supports the tax, it will go a long way toward ensuring it is adopted. The City Council holds the largest number of votes on the Monroe County Tax Council, which must approve any new income tax. The Town of Ellettsville has already supported the effort. The Monroe County government has not weighed in.