Unfortunately, Mayor Greg Ballard's efforts to expand the Downtown TIF district to include sections of Massachusetts and Indiana avenues has been delayed by protracted discussions that have developers and neighborhoods in limbo.
TIFs lock in property tax levels for a period and retain some of the revenue within the target area. Used well, they replenish blighted and stagnant areas. Critics say they deprive schools and libraries of needed funds -- and that, in Indy's case, they have been pushed through without enough public input or cost-benefit analysis.
The latter complaints also have a partisan tinge and are moot when it comes to Proposal 15. Many months of deliberations have accrued, and the projects pass muster.
Mass Ave. involves replacing a fire station, which doesn't pay taxes, with private enterprise. The 16-Tech venture would make Indiana Avenue a life-sciences corridor, harboring one of the city's most promising industries.
Meanwhile, merchants, community leaders and elected officials in the Midtown area stretching several miles north of 16th Street seek TIF inclusion for grass-roots rejuvenation of a sector that is diverse, viable but in many parts struggling. They have much to offer a city that has not done well by its neighborhoods, and they ask a fraction of what Downtown developers are used to in terms of tax help.
Responding to a study commission report, the council has committed to taking a hard look at TIFs overall. That mission need not conflict with the current task: End the delay and approve Proposal 15 before the investors walk away; and let the Midtown stakeholders have their shot.They make our absentee mayor's water-carrying efforts on behalf of the downtown mafia sound so noble. You would think he was rescuing babies from poverty, or doing something as basic as operating a city bus service upon which its residents could rely to get to and from work. Notice how the eggheads describe development of an upscale, booming downtown business district as "blighted and stagnant areas." They tell us the projects "pass muster." Hell, the proponents haven't even detailed to the public what the projects are. That's all a big secret that has been kept under lock and seal to protect the integrity of the public bidding process we're told. Only the mayor, his trusted minions and pay-to-play contractors and developers are privy to that information. What little we do know is that developers who were willing to pay a lot of money to purchase city-owned property without any TIF or public dollars to redevelop the parcels of property in question were told "no thanks" by city officials. Yet the Star's editors can tell us that secretly-negotiated deals "pass muster"? How stupid do they think we are?
Despite overwhelming evidence from the recent study of the financial impact of the dozens of TIF districts already on the books that was undertaken by a task force that proves unequivocally how deeply TIFs are eroding the tax base upon which our schools and other essential governmental services rely upon as their funding source, the editors depict the complaints of the well-informed as having a "partisan tinge and are moot when it comes to Proposal 15," the downtown TIF expansion proposal. Are these people serious? What hope do we have as a community when the newspaper of record so blatantly misleads the public with which it has entrusted itself to serve and throws in with the most corrupt elements within city-county government to force through a measure that so clearly does more harm to those who most need the assistance of our government in order to feather the nests of the so-called 1%? The Star's editors could seem to care less that the proponents of this TIF grab have avoided transparency at every turn and even demonstrated a willingness to enact the measure in clear violation of city law.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I would highly encourage our neighboring corrupt pols in Chicago to relocate to Indianapolis and ply their trade here where you will have the state's largest newspaper to aid and abet you in stealing public funds and friendly, back-slapping prosecutors who prefer breaking bread with you over interrogating you for your wanton ways. You have to live it to believe it.