Welcome to BusinessNOW from the Carmel Chamber of Commerce. We have launched this initiative to better inform our constituents, keeping them abreast of happenings that directly impact business – whether that is a proposed local ordinance or a pending piece of state legislation.
As a member-driven organization committed to enhancing our members’ success, fostering economic growth and contributing to our community’s quality of life, the Carmel Chamber takes an active role in shaping our business environment through our Business Issues Committee, a 13-member group that meets monthly to discuss pressing issues.
We hope this provides an informative look at the issues impacting your business. Ideas for future issues or questions about the chamber? Contact Mo Merhoff, Carmel Chamber President.
School Funding Issues
In an almost-unprecedented action, the municipalities, school corporations, county commissioners and Hamilton County Chamber organizations supported a resolution regarding Hamilton County Schools.
Public schools in Indiana must operate separate accounts for their general fund, transportation and capital funds, and cannot move funds among those silos to accommodate individual needs. Senate Bill 517, passed in 2013 but enacted this year, required that school corporations allocate any losses incurred through the tax-cap circuit breaker to be absorbed only in transportation and capital funds. That meant that close to 60 school corporations throughout the state would not be able to afford to transport their students to school, Westfield Washington Schools among those.
Part of the resolution (click here for resolution document) encouraged the State legislature to repeal the provisions of SB 517. While that did not happen, the legislature did provide a three-year extension for the affected schools. This is a band-aid, not a solution, and hopefully the legislature will enact a permanent fix for this problem in the upcoming session.
The second part of the resolution calls for amendments to the current school funding formula to more equitably fund base foundation funding. Hamilton County boasts the highest performing schools in the State, and the lowest per-pupil funding. We’re hoping next year’s budget session will afford Hamilton County schools the opportunity to state their case for sustaining their excellence.
Legislative Breakfast: Superintendent's Panel
Friday, April 18 | 7:30 to 9 a.m. | The Mansion at Oak Hill
Our high-performing schools play a significant role in successful economic development and quality of life. Learn more about the process of school funding and its impact as we explore what Hamilton County schools are facing financially and why it's important to the business community.
2014 Legislative Session Outcomes
The Carmel Chamber and the Hamilton County Business Issues Committee supported the mass transit legislation, which passed following considerable amendment. The House wanted light rail included; the Senate wanted a tax on businesses included. The compromise resulted in the elimination of both light rail and business tax inclusions. Our view? It's far from ideal, but it's a start.
Business Personal Property Tax
Senate Bill 1 occupied considerable time at the State house and again, compromise prevailed. Local governments now will have the option of exempting all personal property valued under $20,000; offering extended abatements on new personal property for up to 20 years; or eliminating taxes on all newly acquired business personal property. The bill includes the creation of a blue ribbon commission to study the impact of the legislation on local funding.
As you read in the news regarding this, the concern from municipalities was the further loss of revenue already negatively affected by the tax caps. Virtually every chamber in the state, while not against property tax caps per se, was against putting those caps into the constitution where they could not be tested and altered if need be.
The Bridges Project
The Carmel Chamber supported The Bridges Planned Unit Development in 2011. Recently, the project requested amendments to the PUD to allow the project to be built according to the developed plans. The Chamber's Business Issues Committee, and subsequently the Board, voted to support those changes. The amendments are currently moving through committee at the Plan Commission level.
US 31 Hamilton County Project
After almost 20 years of planning, construction of Carmel's section of US 31 begins in earnest soon. You can keep up to date on the project in several ways: