NOTE: This "Your Turn" guest column by Chamber CEO Eric Spoonmore was published in the April 24, 2022 Bloomington Herald-Times.
The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce recently distributed a Local Income Tax survey and has collected significant feedback from our members and community on this proposal. When considering the survey results, it’s important to note that most Chamber members are small, locally owned businesses and non-profit employers. These are the organizations that we know and love, and that make this such a vibrant, wonderful, and compassionate community. The Chamber of Commerce values the feedback we receive from our members, and we encourage elected leaders to consider this input when examining the proposed income tax increase on Monroe County residents.
With over 300 survey responses submitted, the Chamber has heard loud and clear that this tax proposal in its current form is not supported by over 90% of respondents. Survey responses have also clearly indicated that public safety is a top priority and that our law enforcement personnel need more resources. Over 60% of respondents ranked public safety as the highest priority of the four categories proposed for new spending. The second highest priority among respondents was essential city services. Climate change preparedness & mitigation received the least amount of support with 6% of respondents ranking it as the most important priority for new spending.
In light of the apparent lack of support for the full $18M tax increase, the Chamber urges city leaders to scale back the proposal and focus first on the most time-sensitive needs of the city. We encourage council members to identify a solution for funding public safety services that is not dependent on an exorbitant tax increase related to other, less-urgent priorities of the administration. A 64% increase in the income tax rate for Monroe County residents during a period of record high inflation is an exceedingly burdensome ask. The Chamber is hopeful that a substantially reduced rate could be implemented for funding the needed public safety investments in our community.
In addition to support for public safety services, the Chamber has long supported a new public transit route that would link the city to the Park 48 education and employment hubs on the west side of Bloomington. When considering opportunities for enhanced transit services funded through additional income tax revenue, we urge elected leaders to prioritize this much needed transportation option and commit to making it a reality for the community.
The critical public safety and transit investments outlined above are estimated to cost roughly $7M, which is a savings of $11M from the original $18M package. Fuding these two iniatives alone would lead to considerable enhancements to the quality of life and safety of Bloomington residents. Let’s start by making these important investments first while avoiding an excessive tax increase on our residents.
The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce continues to collect Local Income Tax survey responses. If members of the community would like to participate in the survey, it can be accessed on the Chamber’s homepage at www.chamberbloomington.org. We value your input.
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