2020 Legislative Session
Aim will take a longer-term, more collaborative approach to our legislative efforts than we have in the past. We want to work closely with legislators on key initiatives that will empower Indiana cities and towns to maximize quality of life for their citizens while attracting and retaining the world’s best companies and most talented workers.
Our priorities for 2020 focused on finding ways to make governance work better for the benefit of all Hoosiers.
2020 Operational Initiatives
Change the Controlled Project Statute to Allow Municipalities to More Efficiently Complete Critical Capital Projects
A controlled project is one that is financed by bonds or a lease and payable by property tax revenue. Depending on the dollar amount of these projects, the public can object to the project by either initiating the petition/remonstrance process or calling for the project to be voted on through a referendum. The controlled project statute currently encompasses road and street projects, which we believe were never intended to be treated like other more specialized capital projects such as new school athletic facilities or town halls. We also do not believe the current controlled project threshold amounts are set at the right level in proportion to a community’s assessed value. There is another provision in the statute that requires controlled projects to be voted on at referendum if a local government does more than $25 million in controlled projects in a year. This unnecessarily complicates the process in fast-growing communities that are doing simultaneous projects. This year, Aim will seek legislation to (1) exempt road and street projects from the controlled project definition, (2) modify the controlled project threshold amounts, and (3) remove the combined $25 million referendum threshold.
Modify Regulations for Carry-In Alcohol at Municipally-Owned Venues
Cities and towns have been diligently working to improve their outdoor public spaces and make their communities more inviting places to live, work, and play. Municipalities often host entertainment events at these outdoor venues and invite the public to bring in picnics, folding chairs, and blankets for seating. While food can be carried in, current alcohol regulations prohibit people from carrying in their own alcoholic beverages. Aim will seek legislation to allow municipalities to decide locally via an ordinance whether alcoholic beverages can be brought in for a municipally-hosted event at a municipal outdoor venue.
Aim Government Efficiency Initiatives:
• Clarify Bidding Procedures for Property Purchase
There is an inconsistency in the statute regarding bidding procedures for the sale of public property with an assessed value of less than $15,000 to abutting landowners. Current law allows the highest bidder to be outbid by a lower bidder because the lower bidder is afforded an opportunity to bid a second time. Aim will seek to correct this inconsistency to bring fairness to this process.
• Improve Communication between Units When Local Income Tax Change is Considered
Either the county council or the local income tax council (the “adopting body”) is charged with adjusting the local income tax (LIT) rate and uses within a county. Any change made to LIT affects the other taxing units that receive a LIT distribution and some of them may have bonds, leases, or other obligations dependent on the LIT revenue stream. Aim will seek legislation to require the adopting body to notify the affected taxing units that they need to verify whether the proposed change of LIT will affect their repayment of bonds, leases, or other debt obligations, and then require the affected units to report that information back to the adopting body.
• Allow Municipal Courts to Keep De Minimis Overpayments as an Administrative Fee
Under current law, county clerks are permitted to keep court overpayments of $.01 to $3.00 as an administrative fee because the cost to return the overpayment is greater than the overpayment itself. Aim will seek legislation that will allow city and town courts the same flexibility to keep small overpayments as administrative fees.
Make Property Tax Appeal Information More Accessible
Property tax appeals have become common. When an appeal is filed, it should serve as an alert to the local units of government dependent on that taxpayer’s property tax revenue that the revenue is not a given and budgeting should be altered accordingly. The county assessor is required to send quarterly reports to the affected taxing units regarding the appeals that have been filed. However, noting that a property is under appeal via Gateway verses sending the quarterly reports would make the process easier for the assessors and make the information more accessible. Aim will suggest that adding this feature to the Gateway system be studied by the Department of Local Government Finance.
Address Lack of Clarity around Municipal Utility Billing Practices
The passage of HEA 1347 last session created confusion for those handling municipal utility billing. That bill provided that all charges for municipal water, gas and electric services to a tenant-occupied property are payable by the tenant if the account indicates that the tenant occupies the property and is responsible for the charges. It is unclear however whether a property owner may still be held secondarily responsible for unpaid bills if the tenant fails to pay. Aim believes that the landlord is operating a business and, like any other business, should be held responsible for the upkeep of the business’s property. If a landlord cannot be held responsible for unpaid tenant bills (even if made party to the contract with the utility), then other ratepayers will have to bear the burden of unpaid services provided to the landlord’s property. Aim will seek legislation that clarifies that as a condition to providing utility service, a municipality can hold a landlord, tenant or both responsible for a rental property’s water, electric, or gas bills (without the provision for a lien on the property).
Our Policy Experts
Chief Executive Officer
317-237-6200 x 224
Deputy Director; Chief Federal and State Policy Officer
317-237-6200 x 225
Member Engagement Director
317-237-6200 x 227
Chief Government Affairs Officer and Legislative Counsel
317-237-6200 x 236
317-237-6200 x 222