Westfield Washington Township and Carmel Clay Townships are expected decide on June 28 on whether to add a referendum to the ballot in November. This referendum would allow voters to decide whether to support a tax increase for a mass transit in Central Indiana.
The Washington Township meeting is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. at Township Office Upper Room at 1549 E Greyhound Pass. The Clay Township meeting is at 6:30 p.m.at the Clay Township offices at 10701 N. College Ave. The meetings are open to the public. It’s possible that a vote doesn’t occur at the June 28 meeting but Cindy Benedict, project manager for Indy Connect, said a vote is probable.
The referendum would fund a Red Line, a rapid-transit bus route that would extend from Greenwood and Indianapolis through Carmel and all the way to Westfield. Indianapolis has already voted to include the referendum on its Nov. 8 ballot.
The $198 million Red Line project is part of a $1.2 billion regional transit plan known as Indy Connect.
If approved, the mass transit tax would generate about $4.14 million from Clay Township and $1.7 million from Washington Township.
Benedict said the cost would be minimal. For someone earning the median income in Hamilton County of about $86,000, the tax increase would mean $18 per month.
“For the median income, we are talking about a tall latte a week,” she told Current in Carmel.
The Clay Township board is made up of three members: Paul Bolin, Matthew Snyder and Mary Eckard. Eckard told Current in Carmel that she had not decided yet how she feels about the mass transit referendum.
The Washington Township also has three board members: David Gill, Gary Southerland and Cari Steele.
Phase 1 of the system’s first line, the Red Line, aims to open in the fall of 2018 as long as Indy Go and would run from Broad Ripple through central Marion County to the University of Indianapolis, with approximately 28 stops recommended.
Phase 2 would bring the Red Line into Hamilton County, as far north as Grand Park in Westfield.
Hamilton County Commissioner Christine Altman told Current in Carmel that she thinks mass transit is a key to grow the county and help people get to work. She said employers have asked for mass transit to help their employees. Mo Merhoff, president of OneZone, said her organization voted in favor of adding the referendum to the ballot and also has asked the public to vote in favor if it is on the ballot.
Not everyone is sold on this matter though. Current publishers wrote in the June 14 Backshop column of Current publications against the referendum, stating: “The rate won’t remain at $0.25 per $100 of income. They’ll just raise it as necessary.’”
Fred Glynn, a member of the Hamilton County Council, told Current in Carmel that most likely he’ll oppose mass transit because it’s a tax increase and he doesn’t think it’s a good use of public money.
“We did the Red Line before and it didn’t work,” he said, referring to the earlier proposals for the Red Line.
For more on this topic, read: youarecurrent.com/whats-the-future-of-mass-transit-in-carmel