Sunday, October 21, 2012

It's A Question Of Priorities

There has been much consternation among members of the downtown mafia and their friends in the mainstream media about the impact of forcing the CIB to give up part of its cash cow to help shore up next year's city budget. To hear them speak, you would think the CIB's solvency is threatened if it has to use any of its $67 million in cash reserves, which puts it on much stronger financial footing right now than the City-County government's $1.1 billion annual budget. Mayor Ballard's only solution to the problem of adequately funding basic city services was to hike property taxes on persons who have already been hit hard by the economic downturn over the past four years. At the same time, Ballard has pushed through major expansions of the downtown TIF district that further erodes the tax base that funds basic city services at the same time his administration pushed through a $20 million public financing of a new, 1000-space parking garage for a downtown developer that will occur in a TIF district, meaning that no property taxes will be paid for many years to come on the new development to pay for basic city services.

Meanwhile, in a parallel universe, Mayor Ballard this week called for further privatization efforts to find money to fund our crumbling city parks. The head of IndyVisit, formerly known as the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association, whines in the IBJ that the lack of direct flights into Indianapolis' new billion-dollar airport terminal imperils his efforts to lure organizations to host their conventions in Indianapolis after a $200 million expansion of the city's convention center and a $60 million public subsidy for the construction of the new J.W. Marriott Hotel. It is suggested that public subsidies may be in order to fund direct flights to cities like San Francisco in order to entice more groups to host their conventions here and help fill up the downtown hotels. IndyVisit's CEO claims that the city has lost 10% of its potential tourism business due to the lack of non-stop flights. Apparently the fact that the city now has among the highest tax rates in the country for visitors is not a factor in attracting conventions to Indianapolis.

We are always told each time that we are asked to pony up more money to subsidize the business activities of downtown that such additional contributions will help grow city revenues that will benefit all of the city's residents. From where I'm sitting, these contributions are only draining city resources that are available to fund essential city services. Fellow blogger Fred McCarthy says it best in describing the contempt our city leaders have for our residents:
One does not know whether to laugh or cry when, simultaneously with this outcry about an attempt to fund public safety, the mayor is announcing that we can’t handle the public parks system and he is, hat in hand, asking taxpayers to put that system on an "alms" basis.
Now he wants citizens who are forced to subsidize professional sports with tax money, but who cannot afford to buy a ticket into the palaces built with that tax money, to come up with more money to use the only publicly financed recreation facility within their financial range.
It is difficult to imagine a more outrageous example of contempt for the residents of this city. One gets the impression that all would be well at city hall - and the editorial offices - if we didn’t have to waste so damned much money providing municipal services like police and fire protection for citizens outside the mile square!


LamLawIndy said...

Gary, how long does the Mayor have to veto the PILOT ordinance? If he does, does the CCC need only a simple majority for an override?

Gary R. Welsh said...

He has 10 days to veto a proposal passed by the council; however, it does not appear to me that he has veto authority over the CIB's budget in which the PILOT was included as it is a separate municipal authority over which he does not exercise executive authority.

Citizen Kane said...

Gee, the fabulously expanded convention center, innumerable subsidized hotels, state-of-the-art sports stadiums, subsidized teams, the new airport terminal and the magic of the CIB and IndyVisit haven't been enough to cause tourism to explode and further enhance our number one industry - the economic driver of Central Indiana!