Thursday, August 11, 2011

More Duplicity In City Budget

Mayor Greg Ballard presented his 2012 budget proposal that claims $20 million in cuts in general government but no cuts in public safety spending. Curiously, the budget proposal includes transferring $40 million from downtown TIF districts to support public safety and criminal justice system budgets. Mayor Ballard says the $40 million transfer is a reimbursement for unspecified money spent out of the City's general fund over the last several years to make improvements to downtown infrastructure.

We can only surmise that the City's parking meter assets was not among the items covered by those $40 million infrastructure improvement expenditures. Last year, the Ballard administration insisted there was no money available to replace the City's aging parking meters, which is why the Mayor claimed we had no choice but to enter into a long-term lease with ACS to get modern meters, foregoing most of the parking meter revenues for the next 50 years for a one-time upfront payment of $20 million. When it was suggested that TIF funds could be tapped to purchase new parking meters, fund libraries or city bus services, the Ballard administration insisted those were legally impermissible uses. That didn't stop the administration from transferring money from the TIF districts to the CIB to help cover a $33.5 million give away to the Indiana Pacers, explained as an economic development investment,  or to subsidize development projects outside the downtown TIF districts. Now we learn $40 million is being transferred out of those same downtown TIF districts to shore up the public safety budget.

There is also a curious transfer being made from the CIB to the city budget to pay for Super Bowl costs. Not long ago we were told the CIB was facing insolvency without a tax increase. The CIB got its tax increase, along with millions more in annual state funding (notwithstanding the first Ballard campaign re-election ad that appeared today claiming he has lowered taxes). The Super Bowl we were told would cost the taxpayers nothing. The Super Bowl host committee we were assured would raise $30 million from the private sector to cover the costs. A flurry of downtown improvement projects necessary to put on our City's best face and the $4 million transfer from the CIB to cover public safety costs suggests the public's cost for hosting next year's Super Bowl will reach at least $30 million before it's all over.

Honestly balanced budgets we're assured. What do you think?


Had Enough Indy? said...

As you note, the CIB seems flush with cash. The legislation a couple of years ago to bail out the CIB included two tax increases that could be enacted by the Council in 2012. As I recall, they were the car rental and admissions taxes.

Guess the CIB doesn't need those increases, after all ! Swell !

Citizen Kane said...

How do you know a politician is lying?

His lips are moving.

The Superbowl is costing various governments sectors tens of millions of dollars, including federal grants etc., Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if the amount ends up somewhere beyond $50 million.

They probably need a lot of that $40 million for the police budget to pay for the Superbowl related overtime costs, etc. and special equipment they are buying. When exposed, they will say, these expenditures will provide a long-term benefit to the city... just like the Superbowl will provide long-term tangible and intangible benefits. And the sheep will continue grazing....

Marycatherine Barton said...

Thanks Gary, HEI, and Citizen Kane. I think we can all agree that one thing Greg Ballard is very good at, is duplicity, boondoggling taxpayers and other residents.