Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ballard Giving $5 Million To Another Private Developer

It's an election year and city tax dollars are flowing straight into the pockets of the fat cat political contributors that are financing Mayor Greg Ballard's re-election campaign. Earlier this year, it was nearly $100 million for the North of South development. Monday it was $6.35 million for a new parking garage in Broad Ripple Village. Yesterday, it was exclusive towing contracts for politically-connected towing operators. Today, it's $5 million for new apartments at the site of Bush Stadium, the former home of the Indianapolis Indians. From the IBJ:

Officials said a final agreement is near for the redevelopment of the historic Bush Stadium site, which is wedged between 16th Street and the White River near Harding Street.
Developer John Watson will build 268 units around the stadium fa├žade, which will be preserved, and near the baseball diamond where the Indianapolis Indians played until 1996. Rental rates for the units will range from $480 to $1,400 per month. The project is expected to be complete by August 2013.
The city is contributing about $5 million to the $23 million project, including tax dollars generated in the area and more that will be transferred from the consolidated downtown tax-increment financing district. Watson said he also is seeking a federal loan to help finance part of the project.
Indianapolis also will invest another $2.7 million in public money to renovate Indiana Avenue from roughly 10th Street to 16th Street with new landscaping, walking paths, bike lanes and other streetscape elements designed to brand the area. That funding will come from initial proceeds from the sale of the city’s water and sewer utilities to Citizens Energy Group.
Note that funding for the give-away includes money "that will be transferred from the consolidated downtown tax-increment financing district." Yes, it comes from the Mayor's slush fund. The developer also plans to tap the federal government for funding as well. I'm betting he lands a 1% loan to finance what part of the project taxpayers aren't paying for locally.

More than $5 billion of assessed value in the city has been taken off the tax-producing rolls for other units of government and earmarked specifically for slush funds operated by the Mayor. This slush fund is supposed to be used exclusively on projects within the downtown TIF district, or so we're told when people wondered why Ballard could tap a downtown TIF fund to help fund the CIB's $33.5 million give-away last year to the billionaire Simon's Indiana Pacers but not share any of the money with IndyGo or the libraries. Now the CIB is flush with funds and is even picking up the cost of more capital improvement costs at Conseco Fieldhouse that are supposed to be paid by the Pacers than was included in last year's $33.5 million deal. That little detail seemed to slip the attention of reporters covering this week's CIB meeting. And Ballard has plans to add even more TIF districts throughout the city to further enlarge the size of the slush funds available to give away to fat cat contributors, while other taxing districts, including schools, are pressed for funds as more and more of the tax base is removed from their reach.
Years ago, politicians would be sent to prison for looting the public treasury in this fashion to reward political contributors. In Indianapolis, it has become an accepted way of conducting business. Even the news media pats them on the back for enriching their political friends while raping the taxpayers. Until you stand up and demand changes, it's only going to get worse. We truly are being governed no better than a banana republic in a third world country.


Citizen Kane said...

Until someone prosecutes, it is legal theft. The problem is that many people believe that it is fine to transfer wealth to the rich, because they hope to eventually be on the receiving end of some of the goodies, even if only the leftover crumbs.

The real problem is the general public is filled with selfish, materialistic people who want everything handed to them by Santa Claus and as long as Ballard can play Santa, they'll fall for it everyone time. Other government officials and so-called leaders are mainly interested in protecting themselves, so they won't point a finger at anyone, because they know how easily they can be shoved in the street. People with integrity don't last in government and if they do, they reach upper management levels.

Concerned Taxpayer said...

Republicans in this county have gone far left.
Try to count up all the promises made by republicans the last election or two and see how many of them they abandoned starting day one of their term.
It's enough to make you sick.

Vox Populi said...

Concerned Taxpayer--they aren't "far left." Corruption doesn't have an ideology, it's present on both sides.

That said, I look forward to seeing how the project turns out. If I decide against buying a home in 2013 (my current goal), living in the remnants of the old stadium would be pretty groovy.

Had Enough Indy? said...

I'm very curious how they can legally spend money on this area from the downtown tif - it is not in or near the tif district.

Plus, the audacity of doing so while so recently poo-pooing using tif money to upgrade the parking meters and not selling them off, plus, as you mentioned, swearing that they couldn't take one penny from the tif to help the library or indygo.

They don't even have enough respect for the intelligence of the public to be consistent.