Thursday, March 21, 2013

Marion County Property Taxpayers Will Be Paying For Mass Transit

In the much talked about effort to allow a mass transit referendum within Marion and Hamilton Counties, one of the more interesting aspects of the proposed legislation is what will happen to the current Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation, which runs Indy Go.

Like many parts of city and county government, Indy Go relies heavily on property taxes to fund their operations. Currently, Hamilton County does not have any public transpiration so they won't be paying property taxes to establish any public transit within Hamilton County or the central Indiana region. Their contribution will exclusively come from an increase in the County Optional Income Tax.

However, Marion County property tax payers do pay for Indy Go. And they'll continue to pay that property tax even though it'll no longer go to the Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation. Instead, it'll go to the brand new, regional board.

(2) The Indianapolis public transportation corporation is abolished upon the transfer of powers and duties to the metropolitan transit district as provided in subdivision (1). However, the taxing district established for the public transportation corporation continues in existence for purposes of any property taxes imposed by the county fiscal body for transfer to the metropolitan transit district to pay the district's costs of carrying out the powers and duties of a public transportation corporation.
As a Marion County resident, I have to ask why we have a tax burden that Hamilton County won't also share? We at least have a bus system to base any extended transit options on. Hamilton County doesn't. Surely their upstart costs for a bus system, or the fabled rail line from Noblesville and/or Fishers (this seems to change a lot) to Indianapolis will cost a lot more than adding buses and adding new routes to an already established system.

Now, I am not dead-set against expanded transit options, especially when it comes to bus service. Bus service is very poor and spotty, even in the parts of town with the most routes. For better or for worse, we're in a service-based economy with a lot of jobs that don't pay a lot. The least we can do, as a society, is try to help the people who work these jobs get around.

So what can we do with this property tax money? Ideally, we should eliminate it. If Hamilton County can fund their contributions to regional transit with less of a tax burden, we probably can as well. But at the very least, Marion County property tax money should be earmarked to be used only in Marion County for projects that'll help those most in need. And no, a fantasy rail line is not going to help those most in need.

Unfortunately, I doubt anyone in the State House will be reading this. It is my understanding that a lot of local blogs are now blocked. So my apologies to my frequent readers from the State of Indiana's IT Department. You will be missed.

1 comment:

  1. This should be an obvious concern for any Marion County legislator, but it has pretty much fallen on deaf ears so far with few exceptions, such as Mike Speedy.


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