Committee votes to send mass transit plan to full council

February 21, 2017 | WRTV13 | Link to Article


INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - The City County Council will vote Monday on raising the county income tax to help fund mass transit.

On Tuesday night, the council's Rules and Public Policy Committee voted 5-2 to pass the plan forward.

It calls for raising the county income tax .025% or $100 for each $40,000 of taxable income. Doing so would raise $54 million a year for IndyGo to expand bus service to parts of the county that don't have it and allow buses to run more often and later at night.

It would also help fund three rapid bus transit routes.

The meeting was held at New Wineskins Ministries on the city's west side. Before it started, a handful of people stood in a circle and prayed the transit plan would be moved to the full council.

IndyCan's Melanie Moore said she's spent months talking to people and advocating for its passage. "We want every individual to be productive, a productive citizen and sometimes it may take this bus service to do that," she said.

The meeting drew dozens of people. The majority of those who spoke were in in favor of the proposal.

"I use transit to get to my several doctors appointments, the dentist and pharmacy, to shop for groceries," said Brian Thomason, who said he has a disability and is unable to drive.

Susan Jones, who is blind, said she's relied on the bus since 1977. She said she's eager for better service. "My bus runs once an hour most of the time. On route 24 we have no service past 7 pm and no Sunday service," she said.

Kate Dobson told the committee said she planned her life around the bus and getting rides from friends. "Being able to take a bus every 15 minutes instead of 30 or 45 makes a huge difference."

But opponents weren't buying it the plan.

"The operation and management of IndyGo over the years, gives me no confidence that extra funding will bring many improvements, if any," said one man.

"I'm not opposed to the transit tax but how it's spent," said Lee Lang.

She told committee members she doesn't want any money going to the Red Line, which will run from Broad Ripple to the University of Indianapolis. She said she and several other business owners worry about the part of the route planned for College Avenue. They fear the impact on traffic and parking along the already-congested corridor.

Dave Harmless spoke out against the tax itself. "There you are forcing me to pay for something I don't use and don't plan on using," he said.

Republican Jeff Coats, who said his district won't see any new routes under the plan, voted no.

"I can't support a tax for my constituents for a service that won't be provided to them," he said.