Race is now on to sway Marion County voters on public transportation tax

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Marion County voters will decide whether or not to pay more taxes for public transportation, now that the council has elected to add it to November’s ballot.

IndyGo wants to upgrade its bus routes and add rapid transit lines through the city, but it says a tax increase is needed to fund it all.

Here’s the question voters will see when they go to the polls in November:

“Shall Marion County have the ability to impose a county economic development income tax rate, not to exceed a rate of 0.25%, to pay for improving or establishing public transportation service in the county through a public transportation project that will create a connected network of buses and rapid transit lines; increase service frequency; extend operational hours; and implement three new rapid transit lines?”

Anyone who lives in Marion County, whether you work there or not, would pay the tax increase if passed.

There’s an easy way to see what it would cost you. Take your paycheck and multiply it by .0025. For a $500 paycheck, for instance, the added cost would be $1.25.

“This is really about improving frequency across Marion County,” IndyGo’s Director of Public Affairs Bryan Luellen said.

The tax would pay for more frequent stops, seven-day service on all routes, and longer hours.

It would also pay for two rapid transit lines, as well as the 2nd and 3rd phases of the Red Line, which is already planned down College Avenue.

Not everyone is on board, though.

“There are some real questions, I think, that need to be answered,” Broad Ripple resident Brian McGuire said.

McGuire is part of a group that opposes the plan, and has campaigned in particular against the Red Line. They started a petition and website, and he said that the group plans to go door-to-door to talk to voters and encourage them to vote no.

“Not only is it a big waste of taxpayer dollars, it also could be spent in areas where it’s really needed,” McGuire said.

Supporters of the plan will do the same. The Indy Chamber is leading an effort called Transit Drives Indy, getting their own message out to voters ahead of the November vote.

IndyGo says that the tax would dramatically increase Indianapolis’ public transportation system, bringing it up to par with other similarly sized cities. For more information, go to the link here.

As for other counties, they would need to put their own referendums on the ballot to pay for the extension of services like the Red Line, which was originally planned to run from Carmel to Greenwood. So far, no other counties have opted to put the measure to voters.

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