Friday, September 05, 2008

Promises Made, Promises Broken

Last year, Mayor Bart Peterson and the Democratic-controlled council said we needed a $90 million, 65% increase in the county option income tax to fund 100 more police officers on the street and to meet the city's unfunded public safety pension obligations. This year, the state picked up the pension obligation, removing approximately $1 billion in debt from the city's books to the state's. The Ballard administration claims the Peterson budget did not properly account for unavoidable costs in this year's budget. That means none of the 100 new police officers promised will be hired, even with the huge pension debt obligation being lifted. Mayor Ballard and the GOP council members opposed last year's income tax increase. Ballard and the Republicans now have no intention of rolling back the income tax increase they opposed at least in the near term, blaming the legislature's decision to cap property taxes. Meanwhile, Marion County taxpayers will continue their migration into the surrounding counties to escape the higher taxes, out of control crime and poor schools. Do you see how it works folks? It's been less than a year since the $90 million tax increase was approved. Much of the money derived from that increase is not being devoted to the purposes for which we were told it would be used by the Democrats. More politics as usual.

11 comments:

Sean Shepard said...

Does anyone have a list of exactly what expense items the previous administration hadn't accounted for and/or what items have exploded in cost to make rescinding that increase unlikely? Is it just that the property tax caps will reduce revenue so much?

I understand completely that until you get there and get access to all of the information, it can be impossible to know everything but if it is so substantial as to cause backtracking from the tax cut promises, it's very important for people to know why, whether it is short term or long-term, and what is going to be done to correct the situation and keep the promise.

Concerned Taxpayer said...

You're right, AI...perhaps Mayor Ballard should continue the Peterson Plan by borrowing $MILLIONS more to pay day-to-day expenses, support the Irsay Palace, and pay off huge debt and cost overruns.

Then hide the truth from the public.

Advance Indiana said...

Sean, There is a side bar to today's story which includes these figures:

$32 million: Marion County general fund to stop jail crowding (more courts, prosecutors, defenders; implemented in 2006).

$23 million: Freezing the property tax levy in Marion County (includes city, county, townships and entities such as libraries).

$15.7 million: Repayment of a loan taken out to balance the 2007 budget.

$13.3 million: Underfunded police salaries and overtime.

$12.9 million: State-mandated reserve fund.

$8.8 million: Police contract salary and benefit increases.

$5.9 million: Firefighter pension expenses.

$4 million: Lawrence and other excluded cities' shares.

$1 million: Legal settlements

Those first 2 items were anticipated. Some of these other items clearly were not.

Advance Indiana said...

It should be apparent to all that the claim that the tax increase was needed for public safety spending increases to fight crime was all a smokescreen. We needed that money just to fund current obligations.

artfuggins said...

But the increase was promised by the Democrats to be used for pensions and more police. The republicans have refused to do so or to rescind the tax increase that they didn't support in the first place....something doesn't smell right here...Remember Mayor Ballard said he could balance the budget just by making small cuts here and there and the tax increase was not needed. Rescind the tax increase.

Indy4U2C said...

Artfuggins:

Allow me to answer your question. The tax increase was promised by the Democrats to be used for pensions and more police. As usual, it was a lie. The budget Peterson prepared was a lie, and failed to budget for expenses like salary, benefit, pensions, and OVERTIME. Peterson knew his budget was a lie, and not possible to implement. Had Peterson continued in office, I'm sure he'd tax and spend us into oblivion.

Ballard is doing an extraordinary job trying to fix the disaster that Peterson left, to prevent us from turning into South Detroit.

Indy4U2C said...

Bart Lies!

HOOSIERS FOR FAIR TAX said...

Gary, I recall those budget hearings for the COIT increase last year. Peterson was FRANTIC, DESPERATE to make sure the COIT was passed.
.
That's when I knew he was putting the city's day-to-day expenses on the bond bank credit card.

Peterson's liability to us is all the political patronage offices...like the arts council.

The VP of our Arts council makes $34,000 more per year than Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaksa and U.S. VP candidate.

Now, I know the salaries aren't directly paid out of the 1.5 million arts budget....however, it is all our money.

And all this waste and misuse of our money needs to be unraveled and dismantled if we have any conscience at all about the future for our children. We can't leave them a legacy of debt.

Sean Shepard said...

Thomas Jefferson believed it to be immoral to put your children and grandchildren into debt.

Thanks for posting the itemized detail Gary. I see that $15.7 million is being used to pay back money borrowed last year. There is a bright spot there at least. Paying back instead of borrowing.

Freezing the property tax levy is also a good thing (devil is always in the details).

Despite disagreement with some policies, Daniels has done a fair job keeping government growth down somewhat and the state appears to be in better financial condition so maybe Greg has somewhere there he can lean on for advice (even if he doesn't need it - a sounding board is always good and too bad Daniels won't get behind an all out property tax repeal effort or full legalized gambling [it's either legal or it's not imho])

mackenzie197 said...

Sean,

I'm not sure where you got that idea about Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was a man who constantly lived beyond his means, borrowing heavily. At death he was in debt more than $100,000, which today is the equivalent to $1 to $2 million dollars. His property had to be auctioned at death to pay his debts. If bankruptcy would have been available then, he probably would have done that.

Sean Shepard said...

mackenzie - I didn't say he was good at it, just stated what he believed. Could be a lesson learned too late you never know. I know he did not die a rich man. Jefferson I think was always a man conflicted in several areas.

Of course... I could be thinking of the wrong founder. Regardless. Still immoral to spend money that will have to be paid back by later generations.