May 9, the City Council passed Prop 172, putting a potential tax increase (up to 0.25%) on the ballot to fund Phases II and III of the IndyGoForward Transit plan. This is a complex issue; here are the facts.
-The first phase of the Red Line Bus Rapid Trasit (BRT) – from College and 67th to UIndy – is completely separate from the referendum. That project was approved by last year’s (2015) City Council as part of the IndyGo budget, and has been federally funded. There have been numerous public meetings and forums to answer questions and address resident and business owner concerns. While the process is necessarily iterative (modifications will continue), the project will be moving forward as planned. The referendum in November is not related to Phase I, but rather Phases II & III.
-Voting to put the referendum on the ballot was an easy decision for me after getting input from hundreds engaged District 2 voters. Our constituents were largely adamant about wanting their voices heard above the din of the vocal transit proponents and opposition. Those who expressed opposition to the referendum were generally opposed to the Transit Plan, and therefore didn’t want the opportunity for it to pass to exist. While I understand this perspective, I think it’s vital that everyone have a voice (no matter your opinion on the transit plan).
-As heavily taxed as our citizens already are, I take any tax increase very seriously. 0.25% for the average Indianapolis family means an extra $100/year in taxes, which is significant. I firmly believe it’s something the voting public should decide after weighing the potential return on investment.
-I am now focusing my transit energy on understanding Phases II & III, as well as the implications of passing or not passing the November Referendum. As you know, the only vote I will have is my personal vote as a constituent. Should it pass, the Council would decide how much of a tax increase and when it will be implemented, but whether or not it passes it 100% up to Marion County voters. In the meantime, I am also researching what I hope to be a feasible alternative and/or addendum to the Transit Plan with the intention of effectively addressing the more immediate transit needs of our community (without a tax increase or serious infrastructure investment).
In the meantime, I will continue to diligently represent all constituent opinions on matters where the Council has input. I’m certain there will be many public meetings scheduled to educate the public on Phases II & III, as well as address questions and concerns.