Tuesday, April 21, 2009

CIB Playing Politics With Bailout?

WRTV's Norm Cox has an interesting item he posted on the Capitol Watch Blog today:

One idea that’s been floated in the last twenty-four hours is already dead. Rep. Ed DeLaney, (D) Indianapolis, and several of his colleagues proposed a stop-gap measure yesterday that called for, among other things, the state treasurer to delay collection on a $17 million bill the C.I.B. owes for issuing fees on the stadium bonds. Somebody should have called DeLaney before the news conference. The C.I.B. already paid that fee yesterday morning, a few hours before DeLaney spoke.

Okay, so the CIB rushed to repay a $17 million loan from the state that it was not obligated to repay until June. Did the CIB even consider asking the state to defer its payment? That is precisely what it did with $36 million in debt owed to the Circle Centre mall investors. The consequence of paying off the loan means the reserves of the CIB fall below a level required as security for bondholders. In effect, the CIB's actions are a deliberate attempt to further exacerbate its financial woes in the closing days of the legislative session to force through the $48 million tax and spend plan it wants. Remember, this is the same CIB which knowingly went forward with a lease agreement with the Colts to manage and operate the state-owned and constructed Lucas Oil Stadium knowing that it didn't have the money to pay those expenses. Simply put, you can't trust the CIB. These people will do anything to get what they want. It's time to hold these people accountable for their gross misconduct.

UPDATE: The CIB bailout bill is likely to be heard by a conference committee later this week. Rep. Jeff Espich (R-Uniondale) is indicating that he's willing to go along with about half the tax increases the CIB is seeking and waiting awhile to see if it needs the $48 million a year it claims is needed to close a budget shortfall. Also, I'm told the CIB decided it would make the payment early at its April 14 meeting. This still begs the question why the CIB didn't consider seeking a deferral of the payment obligation. The only palatable solution to avoid raising taxes is for the CIB to terminate its lease on LOS and turn it back over the State of Indiana, which actually owns the stadium. If Marion County councilors truly want the costs of LOS to be shared statewide, then this is the only solution. Councilors won't go along with this for one reason. They don't want to give up local control of all of the free tickets and the use of the Mayor's suite to watch the games. That's one of the reasons the CIB has been popular with the council for so many years and why it has been able to get by running a deficit for the last decade and nobody would ask any serious questions about what was happening.

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