Wednesday, August 18, 2010

$50 Million Budget Shortfall Just Didn't Fall Out Of The Sky

Fred McCarthy is as insightful as always concerning his observations on his blog, Indy Tax Dollars, about the recent admission by city officials acknowledging the city is facing drastic reductions in next year's budget due to a sharp drop in tax collections. McCarthy notes the "wall" in any news reports from connecting the massive subsidies Indianapolis pays to support our billionaire sports team owners with "the dire financial straits of the city of Indianapolis." McCarthy writes with a nice touch of sarcasm:

This morning’s paper (8/17/10) gives another excellent example of the wall. (Maybe we should start putting the word in caps - or at least in quotation marks!) The big question seems to be whether, or how much, police and fire department budgets should be cut.

In an article discussing an estimated drop in income tax revenues of $50 million and a shortfall of $32 million in property tax revenues for the coming year, there are quotations from the city controller, the public safety director, two City-County Council members, and various unnamed "officials" and "city leaders." Things are really looking bad.

We suspect, though, that - with the possible exception of the pubic safety director - all of the above named (or unnamed) were among the strong supporters of the $35 million giveaway to the local basketball team a few days ago. Those dollars are not mentioned.

Do they really expect us to believe that municipal fiscal disaster has reared its ugly head in just those few days? Did it really occur to nobody downtown that there just might be a more rational use of those 35 million taxpayer dollars?
We assume some might respond that the funds shoveled at sports franchises are dedicated and can not be used for other purposes. Quite correct. But they are dedicated by state legislative action because the so-called leaders of this city demand it be done that way.

We dare say that a bill in the legislature reversing the procedure, returning state tax revenues to the state and local taxes to the city for legitimate governmental expenses, would pass comfortably.

Probably the strongest opposition would come from the Indianapolis delegation.

With editorial help from the media, of course.
Well said, Fred.


Sean Shepard said...

This sort of thing always happens.

They give $5 million away to private organizations and $1 million to "the arts" and then several weeks later have some urgent need to raise $4 million in the hotel tax.

They give millions away to some other private organization and then WHAMO panic over a big budget shortfall.

I don't understand it. This is not rocket science, it's basic math and planning. Does somebody need to show these jokers (legislators) how to use Excel and do a budget projection?

Simple message to councilors and other legislators at all levels, "You have to pick priorities. It's not your money. There isn't enough of this money that isn't yours. Quit spending it like it is."

Paul K. Ogden said...

I have heard the Mayor use the "money is coming form a different pot" theory to jusify spending on the Pacers while cutting back elsewhere. SS pokes holes in that theory by pointing out that the different pots was requested by the pols in Indy.

Plus I would add that ultimately the money comes from one source, the taxpayers' wallet. The taxpayers don't care which pot the money is placed into. The taxpayers wallet only has so much money. When you take money out for the Pacers, the taxpayers have less money for other things.

dcrutch said...

Justifying spending we can't afford by selling the "different pots" the funding comes from is up there with Nixon's "secret plan" for winning in Vietnam, the Soviet "five-year" agricultural plan, or Clinton not having sexual relations with "that woman".

"The taxpayers wallet only has so much money."- Paul K. Ogden

Marycatherine Barton said...

And most importantly, it was not even remotely necessary for the Republican mayor and his hallelujah council to fork over 33 million smackaroos to the Pacers. And shame on any member of the legislature who would oppose the legislation Fred so ably explains. Thanks for this praise of McCarthy's blog.