Commuter tax on Suburbanites Working in Indianapolis?

According to the Indianapolis Star, Mayor Greg Ballard of Indianapolis is poised to improve the slowing growing city's competitive position relative to the suburbs.  The Star  noted:

"Indianapolis may be a bigger draw than surrounding areas in attracting young residents, but it’s got a problem."

"Right as they begin raising families, many in their 30s split for the suburbs — taking their growing incomes, and the local taxes they pay, to bedroom communities in Hamilton, Johnson, Hendricks and other counties."

Mayoral Chief of Staff Ryan Vaughn told The Star that initiatives would include a focus on improving schools, and public safety, both of which had much to do with the decades long declines of US central cities. Vaughn told the newspaper that "Ballard wants to focus on strategies to compete more fiercely with suburban counties that draw — and keep — middle- and higher-income residents."

Certainly, the fact that central cities are far safer today than they were when New York's Mayor Rudolph Giuliani implemented his much copied policy of intolerance toward crime in the early 1990s. Even so, Mayor Ballard has it right. Long term, sustainable recovery of cities as livable environments within the metropolitan economy requires both good public schools and an environment in which parents feel that they and their children are safe.

There is a cautionary note however. While the Mayor's office is on the right track in wanting to solve the endemic problems that have so weakened core cities such as Indianapolis, he has yet to take a position on a proposed commuter tax that would be levied against employees who live in suburban counties and work in the city. This would make the suburbs more attractive for employers who are presently located in the city. Further, it would make the suburbs more competitive to businesses that choose the Indianapolis area for relocation. Trying to attract and keep middle income households, while repelling business makes little sense.

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The Inner Suburbs are Already Annexed

Indianapolis already annexed most of Marion County, including some older suburban areas along the northern part of the I-465 beltway, back in 1970 when city-county mergers were the poli-sci rage. The upscale suburbs (Carmel, Noblesville) are outside of the county and already have the signs of some edge-city developing. A commuter tax will speed that up, as development on I-69 to the northeast of town and Greenwood to the south of the county line will pick up under those conditions.