Monday, August 11, 2008

John Responds To Ballard's Budget Proposal

Marion County GOP Chairman Tom John gives his take on Mayor Ballard's proposed 2009 city budget. John blames the city's current budget woes on Mayor Bart Peterson's "lack of political foresight" and "crass political calculations." To back his view, John cites the following:

  • City Spending was not put in budget. While the former mayor tried to claim he kept spending under control (despite increasing known spending by over $300 million in his two terms), it has become clear those claims were an election year ploy. Multiple areas of known spending were simply not put in the budget and claimed to be spending cuts, including:
    - $10.5 million in scheduled DPW transportation infrastructure improvement (road maintenance)
    - $4.2 million in IFD overtime
    - $2.8 million in scheduled labor contract increases with the Sheriff's office
    - $128,000 in scheduled labor contract increases with the Department of Public Works
    - $65,000 in scheduled labor contract increases with the Department of Metropolitan Development
  • The City borrowed to pay for operating expenses. Borrowing money for a government to undertake capital projects, major construction, or a long-term project is a common and accepted practice in municipal government. In the past administration, however, the city began borrowing money to pay current operating expenses. Notably, operating expenses for the pre-1977 Police and Fire Pensions were paid through bond debt for operating years 2005, 2006, 2007, and part of 2008, totaling $100 million dollars. In addition, this debt will cause the city to pay $40 million in interest through 2021.
  • The City let contracts expire at the end of 2007 that could have saved millions. While Mayor Ballard did not take office until January 1st, the past administration failed to inform Ballard's transition team of many expiring contracts which terminated in December, before Mayor Ballard had any authority to act upon them. Most notable, the past administration let a fuel hedge fund expire. That fund would have let City and County vehicles pay only $2.65 for gasoline in 2008. Instead, the City was forced to acquire a new contract that costs more than a dollar more because of the volatility in the markets.
  • Late property tax bills have delayed expected revenue. Due to the inability of County Assessor Greg Bowes and the Township Assessors to properly assess property to the standards of the DLGF, the City has had to borrow in order to cover budgeted expenses. This has caused an additional $8.5 million in interest costs in 2008 alone.
  • Inefficient management of government institutions. There are many inefficiencies still remaining in our city government. Notably, Jail I, operated by the Sheriff's office, costs taxpayers $107.33 per day per offender. Jail II, which is privately operated, only costs taxpayers $42.13 per day per offender. Even the state maximum security facility at Wabash Valley costs taxpayers around $62 per offender per day. Clearly, Sheriff Anderson is running an inefficient operation that would fail if it were a private business.


Unknown said...

Actually maybe the higher cost per inmate at Jail #1 is because they actually do the job they're supposed to be doing there. Everyone who has to deal with Jail #2 know how poorly that facility is run. Talk to some local criminal court judges about how many times they are constantly ordering CCA to provide the medication an inmate is supposed to be receiving.

Vox Populi said...

Not to mention Jail#1 is staffed by law enforcement officers and not minimum wage rent-a-cops like Jail 2.

John is full of bullshit. They take credit for all the good like the Superbowl and place the blame on a mayor who hasn't been in office for 8 months for all that's bad in the city.

Stop blaming and solve the fucking problems.

artfuggins said...

Boo hoo! Mayor Ballard said he could find $70 million in savings just by cutting the budget. Apparently that was just campaign talk.

Paul Hill said...

Boo freaking hoo.

It's his city now. Bart Peterson hasn't been Mayor for like 6 months. If you haven't figured it out by now, quit your crying and man up. YOUR guy is in charge now. Act like it.

indyernie said...

"It's his city now. Bart Peterson hasn't been Mayor for like 6 months. If you haven't figured it out by now, quit your crying and man up."

“Like” do you dudes know that the Peterson administration held a shredding party and destroyed all of our city records regarding appointments?

“Like” do you dudes know that the Peterson Administration intentionally withheld information that will cause Indy’s operating expenses to increase?

“Like” do you dudes know that your guy Bart put the city in a real mess then did everything but lock the keys inside the Mayors office before heading out of town?

“Like” do you dudes know that not even a stapler or paperclip could be found in most offices when Ballard took over the office of Mayor?

This all is true along with several other stories about your beloved Peterson. The facts are the facts. The former administration left this city in a mess because of bruised egos and immaturity. We deserve better and I can assure you that when it's time for Ballard to move on it will happen with a responsible transition, maturity and adult supervision.

How many citizens will be locked out of the CCB tonight? My prediction...0.

Bart Lies said...

The Peterson administration left the 25th floor in utter disarray when they moved out.

The Peterson administration left the City budget in utter disarray when they moved out.

No surprises there.

guy77money said...

Ballard won't be writing blank checks like Peterson's administration did. Peterson and Servas had their cozy arrangements with the bond bank people. Everyone was making money and the tax payer was left holding the bag. I am surprised that no one has looked into the over $850 million dollars in bonds issued for the water company. Word on the street is that the Citizen's Gas will be soon asking for a large (possible 40 percent) increase in rates. The poor taxpayer and local consumer is going to get a double whammy!

Gary R. Welsh said...

Does anyone dispute the assertions John makes? I realize there are still a lot of bruised Peterson fans out there, but the assertions about Peterson's last budget are very damning. It seems to me he has forfeited any right to hold public office again with such misconduct. I will give you that Ballard needs to work harder on this budget, but I think the Peterson folks have to own up to their guy's mischief at the public's expense.

Jon E. Easter said...

When Sheriff Frank Anderson took the oath of office, he has been candid that he inherited the problems at the jail. He often said, "When I raised my hand and took the oath of office, the jail's problems became Frank Anderson's problems."

Mayor Ballard and his brand new best friend Tom John could learn from that example. It's an easy thing to do to point fingers and blame the last guy.

Bart Lies said...

And Joanne Sander's observation on Ballard's budget is... "Uou can play with the numbers and make them say anything you want."

Well, looking back on her party's Mayor and his budgeting 'skills', I have to agree with her - for the first, and surely only, time.

C'mon Joanne, take off the dunce cap.

Bart took your statement a notch higher, simply leaving out many of the numbers altogether - and doing so pages at a time. Out of sight and out of mind, I guess.

indyernie said...

Not one person was refused a seat or kicked out of the meeting tonight...we didn’t have folks waiting outside until the Mayor finished his budget presentation to be seated. See how government is suppose to work? We can all have access when responsible adults are in charge of local government.

Unknown said...

Cutting funding from MCSD and the courts is a huge mistake. If public safety is paramount as Ballard says, how can it be a good idea to take away funding from criminal justice agencies? The Dems are exactly right on this one.

These comparisons about cost per inmate are not apples-to-apples comparisons. I'd like to know how the jail stacks up against other county jails in Indiana. State prisons are a different animal entirely. And Jail II is notoriously poorly run, as are all private correctional facilities.

Unknown said...

Jon Easter, exactly when has Frank Anderson taken responsibility for the problems at Jail #2? Although it is privatized, he is supposed to monitor the company's compliance with the contract. He has totally failed in that responsibility.

I'll give credit where credit is due though. With the exception of the privatized medical, Jail #1 is an extremely well run facility.

M Theory said...

You have to say the mayor stepped up. He has a plan that will hopefully lead to spending less this year than last year.

Mayor Ballard will not be going to the bond bank (like Peterson did) to pay operating expenses.

Can you imagine paying for groceries and utilities on a credit card every month and only paying the minimum payment?

That's what we had with Peterson.

We don't expect perfection from Ballard and we expect he will make mistakes. However, we also know that we'll never be locked out of the process and our mayor will to his best to assure gov't is open and accountable to the people.

It was nice to go to hear a budget presentation last night and not be locked out. If you got there early, you could get a seat.

Ballard did not have to stack the audience with people to clap for him like Peterson frantically did last year. Citizens came of their own accord, filled the entire auditorium, and gave our new Mayor more than one standing ovation.