A bill being considered by the General Assembly could allow officials to raise nearly $9 million in taxes to expand public transportation in Monroe County — if that is what voters choose.

Indiana Senate Bill 285 would allow counties to implement a transit tax to grow public transportation options if voters approve a local public question on the matter before the county’s fiscal body adopts it.

According to the bill, the tax rate must be at least 0.1 percent but not more than 0.25 percent. The Indiana Legislative Service Agency estimates that if the maximum tax rate is imposed in Monroe County, it would bring in an additional $8.9 million in 2021. Bloomington Transit’s overall 2018 budget was $10.3 million.

The bill passed the state Senate last week, and now moves on to the House for consideration.

State Sen. Mark Stoops, the bill’s author and Bloomington’s Democratic representative, said public transportation is an important component of workforce development, much like training and education. However, he said state lawmakers have not invested in this component as much as the others. Stoops has introduced similar bills in the past, specifically focusing on expanding public transportation in Monroe County.

Lew May, general manager of Bloomington Transit, said major employers often want communities to have good mass transit infrastructure. He said counties throughout the state can make their areas more attractive by improving their local transit system.

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