Monroe County considering new public safety tax increase

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Monroe County is considering a new tax to pay for public safety needs.

The tax, which is available under a law passed recently by state legislators, would add .25 to the current income tax. All of the funds raised would go to public safety entities only.

For taxpayers, the increase was estimated to cost $125 per year for a person making $50,000.

The main beneficiary of the proposed tax increase would be the county's 911 dispatch center, which would receive 30% of the approximately $6.9M raised.

"Statewide, all the dispatch centers are struggling to operate because of funding issues," Dispatch Communications Director Jeff Schemmer said.

The rest of the money would be divvied up between fire, ambulance, and police services in Bloomington, Ellettsville, Stinesville, and the Monroe County Sheriff's Department.

Sheriff Brad Swain said he planned to use his portion of funds to pay for nine to ten new patrol deputies.

"(Under) recommended staffing levels by Department of Justice, we should have 97 deputies for our population. We have ... 33," Swain said.

Bloomington Police Chief Mike Diekhoff said that his city's funds would be used largely, at first, on fire department needs for equipment and building upgrades. Beyond that, he expressed a need for new police equipment and potentially more staff down the road.

The Bloomington City Council, Monroe County Council, and Elletsville Town Council all need to vote to pass the tax. So far, only Elletsville has passed the measure.

At a Tuesday meeting, the Monroe County Council decided to hold off on its vote until June. On Wednesday, the Bloomington County Council voted to move the proposal forward. They'll talk more about it at their next meeting.