Mayor Peterson reportedly reduced $13 million in the budget before presenting it to the council. That was largely accomplished by implementing a hiring freeze and delaying purchases of new equipment and materials. In other words, none of the reductions will affect long-term spending patterns by the city. The Mayor will boast that the overall city budget is only increasing slightly this year, but he won't mention that a $35 million reduction was achieved off the top because last year's budget included a one-time payment to the state to cover the county's child welfare debt.
Meanwhile, tax protestors visited the home of Mayor Peterson yesterday, but the Mayor didn't come out to chat with them. They are particularly miffed that Peterson is taking credit for the public pressure they brought about through several property tax protests over the summer, which led to Gov. Daniels' decision to order a reassessment of property in Marion Co. The Star's Cordell Eddings writes:
"The man wants to sit and bald-face lie that he is responsible for the reassessment. It was us that generated the reassessment. And he wants to take credit for it? I think not," said Jeff Hays, 47, who, like the mayor, lives in Washington Township. He held a sign with a picture of Peterson with an elongated nose, titled "Bartnocchio," in a reference to the storybook character Pinocchio, whose nose grew when he lied.
He had nothing to do with the reassessment."
The protesters called for the mayor to come out and talk -- noticing every movement in the curtains of the home's front windows.
"Bart, we are waiting. We know you're in there," somebody yelled. "You've got to come out sometime, Bart."
Mayor Peterson's campaign manager, Mike O'Connor, defended the Mayor's misleading ad. "Clearly, we wrote that script, and we are comfortable with the facts in the ad," O'Connor said.
"In our society, everyone is entitled to express their opinion. But just because they have an opinion doesn't make it a fact. The mayor was out front calling for a reassessment way before action was taken."
On the point of the reassessment order, it is important to point out that the new assessment will in all likelihood produce little or no changes in most homeowner's tax bills. By ordering a reassessment, Gov. Daniels only deferred the real pain most homeowners will feel when their actual tax bills for this year come due early next year. In a sense, the Governor in one fell swoop did more to boost the re-election campaign of Mayor Peterson than anything the Mayor has done this year to help his own re-election. Some critics think that is by design given how Gov. Daniels has done absolutely nothing to help the campaign of Greg Ballard as he sits atop millions of dollars for his own re-election. Some Republicans in Marion County may not forgot Daniels lack of effort here in Marion Co. in next year's gubernatorial race.