- an $8 million cut from the operating budget of the Capital Improvement Board (after they started with a $20 million increase)
- an increase in the ticket tax on all events at facilities the CIB operates from 6 percent to 10 percent (expected yield: $6 million)
- Contributions from the Indiana Pacers and Indianapolis Colts of $5 million each
- a one percent increase in the Marion County hotel tax (expected yield: $4 million)
- a two percent increase in the Marion County car rental tax (expected yield $2 million)
- the ability to increase the local alcohol tax (expected yield $10-12 million; if county captures 100 percent of local consumption)
- a requested expansion of the PSDA to include the new JW Marriott and expand the scope of the tax to include sales and income (expected yield $8.8 million)
Ballard's $48 million tax increase plan to bail out the CIB will not actually mean any pain for the Colts or Pacers. The CIB still seems determined to pick up the lion's share of the estimated $20 million needed to operate the state-owned Lucas Oil Stadium. Further, his plan assumes the CIB will be picking up the estimated $15 million in operating expenses the Simons claim they are currently paying to operate Conseco Fieldhouse. This plan entails no sacrifices on the part of the billionaire team owners. Do not believe the spin on this bailout plan.
By raising the City's hotel tax by one percent to 17%, he ensures that city convention planners will be combatting sales pitches from competing cities that Indianapolis is too expensive of a place to host a convention. Indianapolis' bar and restaurant owners are also being clobbered with a tax increase in the form of at least a doubling of the alcohol tax. This will also act as an increase in the food and beverage tax on alcohol consumption. The alcohol tax is paid at the distributor level. When retailers pass the higher prices on to their customers, there will be an accompanying increase in the food and beverage tax. Marion County's food and beverage tax at 9% is already higher than all of the surrounding counties and one of the highest in the nation. I would note that Ballard's plan projects $12 million annually from a doubling of the alcohol tax, while LSA had projected such an increase in the state tax would generate $8 million annually for Indianapolis. Perhaps the additional $4 million is the resulting sales tax increase on alcohol.
Ballard's plan will increase the hit on state taxpayers. By expanding the professional sports development area to include sales and income taxes the J.W. Marriott convention hotel complex generates, the effect is to divert an estimated $8 million in state revenues to the CIB which would otherwise be available to fund such things as education, health services, etc. He is also banking heavily on a very speculative revenue source. The hotel industry is reeling from the current economic downturn, particularly high end hotels like the still-under-construction J.W. Marriott Hotel. See my earlier analysis here and this post on the IBJ's analysis. See also this story in today's New York Times.
In pushing his plan, Ballard continues to use a message that simply won't sell. "The financial problems related to the CIB did not happen overnight,"said Mayor Ballard. "And this is about more than the CIB. It's about Downtown Indianapolis, which serves as the economic engine for the county, the region and the state. It's about 66,000 jobs and $3.5 billion in annual revenue generated by the hospitality industry." Stop lying, Mr. Mayor. This is not about Downtown Indianapolis. It's not even about the City's convention industry. It's about putting tens of millions of additional taxpayer dollars into the pockets of the billionaire sports team owners every year. It is nothing less than that. Stop your scare tactics now, Mr. Mayor. They aren't working. The gig is up. And if you were really concerned about the future of the City's convention business, you wouldn't be proposing tax increases that could effectively break its back. The Mayor offers this additional good laugh according to the IBJ's Scott Olson: "The mayor said some of the taxes, particularly the alcohol and hotel levies, could be rescinded within five to 10 years, if the convention center expansion and Lucas Oil Stadium attract more events and generate more income for the CIB." Yeah, right, as if any tax increase implemented for the benefit of the CIB has ever been rescinded in the past despite promises to the contrary.
If Ballard's plan is adopted, it will ensure his status as a one-term mayor. Further, the Republicans will forfeit control of the Indianapolis City-County Council, which they currently only control by a one seat margin. So much for the accountability in government we were promised by candidate Ballard. Years of deception and deficit spending by the CIB is rewarded with more tax revenue to fuel even more spending. Did you expect any different outcome after the Mayor put the attorney for the billionaire Simons in charge of the CIB?