Saturday, June 30, 2007

Bart's Flip-Flop On Taxes

Matt Tully reminds us that Mayor Bart Peterson had an entirely different view on raising taxes to support public safety and meet the city's long-term pension obligations when he gave his state of the city address back in 2000. Peterson said then:

"Unfortunately, the part of the city budget that goes to cover police and firefighter pensions is the same part of the budget that pays for ongoing police and fire operations, including additional resources needed for public safety. We will meet our pension obligations, and we will also find a way to pay for the additional public safety resources we need. And it is important to do both without raising taxes. Raising taxes may sound like an easy answer, but if we want to avoid the urban death spiral that so many other American cities have experienced, we cannot give individuals and businesses an incentive to leave our city."

After reading the Mayor's words, think about all the taxes he's raised during the past 4 years and the taxes he still wants to raise to meet obligations he told us we could meet 7 years ago without a tax increase. And then ask yourself what has changed. Why will raising taxes not lead to the"urban death spiral" that will give "individuals and businesses and incentive to leave our city." Who do you believe? The Bart Peterson of 2000 or the Bart Peterson of 2007?

Tully thinks Peterson's 2000 words will haunt him this year, and they should. Greg Ballard and the Marion Co. GOP can't let Peterson off the hook. People are fed up with the rising taxes and crime in our city. It presents a golden opportunity for the GOP. Marion Co. GOP Chairman Tom John seems to grasp this. He has come out against Mayor Peterson's latest tax increase. John had this to say in a recent press release:

“It is unconscionable that Mayor Peterson would propose a $90 million income tax increase at the same time homeowners face huge double digit property tax increases,” John declared this week. “Mayor Peterson talks a good game, and always has someone else to blame for the problems, but his own record shows he has done nothing to reduce local government spending,” said John. “Time and time again the Mayor has stood silently on the sidelines while local government spending has exploded.” “Peterson needs to ‘walk the walk' if he is going to 'talk the talk.’ Instead of pointing fingers, Peterson should immediately conduct his own thorough and public review of all local budgets,” John said. “It’s time for the Mayor to sharpen his own pencil and find ways to cut local government spending with the exception of public safety.”

John reminds us of another one of Mayor Peterson's broken promies. Peterson created a Fiscal Policy Council four years ago by executive order to help coordinate spending and taxing priorities among Marion County's dozen's of political subdivisions. John asks if the council has even bothered to meet and do anything during the four years of its existence. John asks, "Well, Mr. Mayor, can we now see some follow through and you show some leadership by using this policy panel effect a real reduction in local spending?” I think the game is up for Mayor Peterson. It's time for change.


Wilson46201 said...

The U.S. Constitutional system is set up as divided and separate governments. It may be inefficient but it prevents "the government" from becoming too powerful over citizens lives. In other words, there are lots of different governments and Bart Peterson is the executive of just one.

Actual control of taxes is through the City-County Council, not the Mayor. Of the property tax bill you receive, the City-Council controls way less than half of that. School boards set their own budgets and account for about half of your property taxes.

Peterson has no say whatsoever about Township budgets. None. Yet they have taxing authority. In Center, that's 01.47% of your property tax bill.

Still, it all adds up. The point is that you are actually paying a number of separate, distinct taxes to a variety of independent government entities only one of which has Peterson as its executive officer. Taxing power is widely diffused to a number of separate and independent elected officials.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Wilson,

Read the mayors decree from 2003.

Some interesting sections.

WHEREAS, many taxpayers in Indianapolis and Marion County have seen increases in their tax bills for property taxes due and payable in 2003; and

WHEREAS, the State Legislative Services Agency has determined that the general reassessment alone caused the tax bills of at least 24,000 homes to increase by 100% or more; and

WHEREAS, the Taxing Units should assemble to discuss their planned spending and its likely cumulative impact on taxpayers, to facilitate conscious, integrated financial planning and provide for more tax accountability;

NOW, THEREFORE, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Mayor of the City of Indianapolis, Indiana, and as successor-in-interest to the Board of Commissioners of Marion County, Indiana, it is hereby ordered as follows:

The Council shall have two (2) principal powers and responsibilities.

1. Each year during the time when Taxing Units are in the process of formulating their budgets, tax rates and levies, the Council shall compile a report that includes the information on all the Taxing Units' budgets, tax rates and levies, and that shows their cumulative effect.

The mayor seemed to think he has some sort of control or influence as by the last part of the order

# This Executive Order is issued with the expectation that in the course of the Council's operation, the discussions among the Taxing Units' representatives will result in the sharing of information about important budget and revenue issues – e.g., capital improvements, operational increases, and revenue shortfalls – and that the Taxing Units will better be able to coordinate any necessary tax increases.
# The Council shall also have such other powers and responsibilities with respect to the Taxing Units' budgets, tax rates and levies as the Mayor may from time to time direct.

Now where are the reports for the last 4 years ?

Wilson46201 said...

Very good question! Who was actually appointed to this "Council"? When did they ever meet? Notice that the exercise was to coordinate and share information amongst the taxing units but no actual power exists to force it on them.

In the real world, the bureaucrats developing budgets for each of the separate and independent taxing units are fairly busy with internal costs and political realities without also trying to effect some "grand consolidated and coordinated" effort with other entities. The bureaucrats present their efforts to the actual boards that have the power to vote for levies. Imagine coordinating all those separate boards with all the variety of agendas involved! Messy.

Anonymous said...

So Mr. Wilson - how many other GRAND Schemes, councils, ideas, projects has the mayor "procilmated" but never got around to actually have them doing what they were supposed to do ?

I did a site search at and I could not find anything happening after he wrote his executive order. Am I missing anything ?

Anonymous said...

"TAX & SPEND"...the motto of the Democraps & the motto of Bart P.

As "The Rich" get richer (ie: Colts, Irsay, Simons, Pacers, select billionaires) we get TAXED to pay for it! Why are taxpayers paying for the Colts, Simons, Pacers, or billionaires' interest? -Because Democraps are scratching their backs!

Wilson46201 said...

Sir Failstone - why not go back to using your old moniker? Your writing style is so obvious - why hide your light under a bushel basket?

Anonymous said...

Its much easier for Mayor Peterson to lie and mislead than it is to actually govern.
At least he's good at one thing.

Coming soon to a lawn and car bumper close to you.

Anonymous said...

One of those other blue ribbon panels the Mayor put together and announced with much fanfare was his Abandoned Homes Initiative.
They met once in 2003 and have essentially done nothing since.
And as the years passed by and more people moved out of the city's central core the problem is now far worse.
Not much can be done however, the budget at the Marion County Health department has been cut severely and so has staff.
Bottom line, the Mayor makes grand announcements on these so-called quality of life issues and then does nothing. The exeption of course, are issue relating to downtown development and quality of life in the Mile Square.

Anonymous said...

To whom it may concern,

For a donation of $10.00 You can own your own “BART LIES” tee shirt. Sizes S to XL.

For a donation of $12.00 You can own your own “BART LIES” tee shirt. Sizes XXL to XXXL.

For a donation of $7.00 You can own your own “BART LIES” YARD SIGN.

For a donation of $2.00 You can own your own “BART LIES” bumper sticker.

All donations will be used for fighting political corruption and negligence.

Take a stand. Its time to clean up Indianapolis.

The web site is up and running. We expect Yard Signs Tuesday July 3 rd. The shirts by Friday.

Hoosiers for Honesty in Government
PO Box 29263
Indpls. IN 46229-9998
Thanks for your support!

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't the city government employ "Six Sigma" to improve the efficiency of our tax dollar. This program has been rippling through private industry for the last 8 years. The results are impressive.

Anonymous said...

Mayor Peterson and his Ghetto Mafia Team are cutting deals left and right. They are getting richer while the average citizen is getting poorer. Check it out. Who are the people in his inner circle wheeling and dealing? Get while the getting is good before the voters wakeup and find they have all been bambuzzled by the Democraps. Say it isn't so!

Anonymous said...

Do the Democrats really have a plan or not to provide services
while reducing taxes at the same time?

The voters have a right to know before November.

Anonymous said...

To Wilson, the Voice for spend and tax democraps. Reality check. You need your own blog. You are like an alcoholic stumbling around in dark places in denial that you have a problem.

In this case, the elected Democraps in Marion County have no idea how to fix the financial problems of this city. It is easier to blame UniGov and past administrations, rather than to accept responsibility for the poor management of resources for the past 7.5 years. Do they have a plan that makes sense? If so, put it out here before November.

The democrat majority city-county council needs to do its job once and for all or be defeated in the fall.
It doesn't seem to matter to them that they have damaged lives. They have ruined lives.

Anonymous said...

Is it my imagination, or is Wilson, in his own verbose way, actually arguing for less government? Ergo, elimination of the wasteful township system?

The constitutional basis for multiple levels of government does not exist, except, to assign certain rights and responsibilities to the states.

Maybe the cocktails had sunk in by 6:18.

And: Six Sigma is a nice theory, and allows for something like 3 "errors" per one million opportunities for error. A fantastic goal, in theory.

But for government, nearly impossible. Because, dear friend, there are so many layers of government here in Indiana, that would mean several layers would have to be error-free.

And we have one example of pro-business principles being implemented too often in government. Wasted opportunities, overpromised lies, meet Mitch Daniels.

Anonymous said...

Everyone needs to just shut-up about taxes. Taxing people out of their homes and their current lifestyle is needed to bring about the eventual collapse of government. Then we can start over, with the same Constitution, only adding one more thing: Term limits for every single elected office in this country.

Lets take bets on how many foreclosures there will be in the coming year. If people start cutting back on eating out, how many small businesses go under? Maybe we can increase line-of-credit limits so people can pay their tax bills with their VISA and MasterCards? If people do stop eating out, will multi-millionaire Irsay step-up and pay for the remaining costs to finish the stadium?