The plan, offered by Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, also included new oversight of the sports board and a provision that would impose new fees on Downtown parking garages. That provision, however, apparently was included by mistake.
The parking fees and other tax increases proposed by Ballard were inserted into House Bill 1604 on Tuesday in an effort to close a projected $47 million deficit facing the CIB next year.
Ballard did not mention the fees in outlining his plan to the public Monday. But Sen. Luke Kenley, who proposed the amendment that placed Ballard's plan into the bill, said he was asked by the mayor's office to include the parking garage proposal in the legislation.
Kenley, R-Noblesville, said the Ballard administration estimated the parking fees could generate $5 million per year.
Kenley, however, said it was unclear how much the city would raise fees to generate that much revenue. The legislation would not set the fees but give the City-County Council the power to institute them.
"It was on the list of items that came over from the mayor's office," Kenley said. "It's another option."
Robert Vane, Ballard's deputy chief of staff, said it shouldn't have been.
"We reviewed any and all reasonable ideas to support the CIB and the Downtown economy," he said. "This was under consideration, but it is not part of his proposal."
The proposals Ballard made public Monday included increasing the city's ticket, innkeepers, auto rental and alcohol taxes. The mayor also called on the Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers to pony up $5 million each. He further proposed an expansion of a special Downtown taxing district to include the new JW Marriott hotel, which is under construction near Victory Field.
"We thought in deference to Mayor Ballard that we ought to tailor this (bill) as closely as we could to what his request was," Kenley said . . .
Andrew Duncan said he hopes they get rid of it.
Duncan, 29, already scrimps on his Downtown parking spot. He pays the bargain rate of $55 a month to park on the roof of a nine-story lot on Market Street. The building has no elevator, so he takes the stairs up and down.
A new fee, Duncan said, would be a hardship for all workers and shoppers who pay to park. "With the current state of the economy," he said, "this is just another way to nickel-and-dime you."
So do you believe Luke Kenley, or do you believe Mayor Ballard's press guy? The mayor's people originally floated the food and beverage tax idea to Kenley as part of his original proposal. The only reason the Mayor took it out and disowned Kenley's original plan is because the push back from the Republican City-County Councilors was so strong. You can bet that Mayor Ballard's administration gave this idea to Kenley just as Kenley claims.
Who pays this tax? The Simons? Hell no. Remember, we gave the Simons a city-owned parking garage for their employees to use exclusively for free. Will the big cheeses who work downtown pay the higher fees? Hell no. Their businesses pick up the tab for them. It's Susie Secretary, Rick Runner and Cal Copier working in the downtown mile square for barely above poverty level wages who will carry the load.
The silence of Marion County legislators and City-County Councilors as this bailout makes its way through the legislature is deafening. To you legislators and councilors who privately assure me you are on our side, I don't want to hear from you any more. If you are on our side, then speak up and tell the public. Put your words to action. If you aren't part of the solution in stopping this unwarranted bailout, then you are a part of the problem as far as I'm concerned.