Indianapolis: Mile Square Tax

Started by NextDoorNeighbor, Nov 30, 2023, 03:43 PM

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You might soon be paying an annual fee for owning property downtown. Here's why

Less than a week after a majority of Indianapolis City-County Councilors were reelected, the council will introduce a proposal Monday to levy a new fee on downtown property owners to pay for street cleaning, homelessness outreach workers, surveillance cameras and other measures as part of a new economic enhancement district.The Council proposed a similar idea in 2018 but that failed after opposition from downtown property owners and the Indiana Apartment Association. Now, they see another opportunity as the city continues to try to bounce back from aftermath of the pandemic.

"Everyone agrees downtown is facing significant challenges and needs a strategy," Taylor Hughes, Vice President of Policy and Strategy at Indy Chamber, which is behind the proposal, said.

The district would require all property owners in the Mile Square, from homeowners to apartment companies to parking garage owners to office building owners, to pay a fee that would go toward downtown upkeep and revitalization.

Homeowners would pay a fixed fee of $250 a year. The fee for all other property owners would be 0.1681% of the property's gross assessed value. So, if a property is worth $50 million, the owner would pay about $84,000 a year.

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Second attempt at downtown fee appears poised for council passage

A renewed attempt to impose a fee on downtown property owners for initiatives aimed at public safety, cleanliness and homelessness in the Mile Square appears poised to succeed after gaining steam among Democrats on the City-County Council.

Four current Democratic councilors—David Ray, Jared Evans, Frank Mascari and La Keisha Jackson—voted against a similar proposal in 2018, when it failed on a 15-8 vote. They now say through a council spokeswoman that they plan to vote Monday night for the proposal sponsored by City-County Council President Vop Osili.

Their support, combined with the votes of Democratic councilors who supported the measure five years ago and of new councilors who have expressed support this year, would be enough to pass the measure despite opposition from the five Republicans on the 25-member council.

Osili said the expected approval is the result of months of work by state legislative leaders, the Indy Chamber, Downtown Indy Inc. and other downtown stakeholders. However, supporters note privately that some opponents still present a threat to undo the council's tax in next year's session of the Indiana General Assembly.

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Council votes to approve creation of downtown enhancement tax

A new fee on downtown property owners that is aimed at increasing public safety and cleanliness in the heart of the city while reducing homelessness was approved Monday night by the Indianapolis City-County Council.

The 19-5 vote, which followed party lines, creates an economic enhancement district—or EED—bound by North, East, South and West streets—the Mile Square—that would see increases to property taxes within those boundaries.

All five Republicans on the council voted against the fee: Paul Annee, Josh Bain, Mike Dilk, Michael Paul Hart and Brian Mowery.

Under the proposal, single-family homeowners would pay an annual $250 flat fee starting in 2025. Based on a formula in the ordinance, owners of commercial properties are expected to pay nearly 0.17% of their properties' gross assessed value, or about $1,681 per $1 million in gross assessed value.

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House speaker wants public hearing on Mile Square tax

Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston said he wants a public hearing on a last-minute law that was slipped into the state budget last year and set into motion a new tax on downtown Indianapolis property owners in the Mile Square.

That hearing would come in the next few weeks on a new piece of legislation that proposes doing away with the new tax and is slated to be considered by the House Ways and Means Committee.

Huston, a Republican from Fishers, did not endorse the legislation but said citizens deserve a chance to weigh in on the concept at a public committee hearing after being denied the opportunity last year.

"Frankly put, [the tax proposal] should have probably gone through the [committee] process like every other piece of language normally goes through," Huston told IBJ on Tuesday. "This is our chance to do that this year."

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Bill to undo Mile Square property tax passes House with support from Speaker Todd Huston

The Indiana House approved legislation Tuesday that would take away the city of Indianapolis' ability to impose a fee on downtown property owners to help pay for the operating costs of a homeless shelter and various improvements in the city's Mile Square, a mechanism authorized by the Legislature just a year ago.

The Republican-controlled House voted 64-29, mostly along party lines, to send House Bill 1199, authored by Rep. Julie McGuire, R-Indianapolis, to the Senate.

The bill would repeal a law the Republican-dominated Legislature approved last year in the waning hours of the legislative session that gave Indianapolis city government the authority to create an economic enhancement district, which the Democrat-controlled City-County Council voted to approve in December.

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