Committee Recommends Counties Make Mass Transit Decisions

A legislative study panel voted 12-1 to leave it up to the counties whether to build light rail or stick to expanding bus service.

City bus.

Photo: Joshua Putnam (Flickr)

Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) says spreading the costs around will ensure more people have a stake and a voice in the project.

A legislative study committee has recommended giving Marion County and four other counties permission to hold a referendum on tax hikes to fund a mass transit expansion.

A study panel voted 12-1 to leave it up to the counties whether to build light rail or stick to expanding bus service. But the panel will propose a formula for how they can raise the money, requiring one-fourth of operating costs to come from the fare box, 65 percent from a local income tax, and 10 percent from a corporate tax.

Study committee chair Patricia Miller (R-Indianapolis) will co-author the bill with Greenwood Republican Brent Waltz.

“We are not trying to be prescriptive of local governments in the proposal. What we’re trying to do is allow local units of government to make their own decisions without the state making mandates upon them,”

Central Indiana Transit Task Force executive director Ron Gifford says the recommendation creates a constructive framework. He says, “It creates a funding mechanism, it keeps control in decision making at the local level. It let’s local governments work together to build the best system to meet their particular needs.”

The panel‘s proposal would authorize Marion, Hamilton, Johnson, Madison and Delaware Counties to put a tax hike on the ballot. If voters approve, county councils will have to vote again to impose the tax.

 

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