Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Kenley Threatens Indy Council Over Use Of CIB Funds

It looks like State Sen. Luke Kenley has accepted one too many free tickets to Indiana Pacers and Colts games. Sen. Kenley is threatening the Indianapolis City-County Council that the City might not get help from the state legislature for a mass transit plan if it forces the CIB to pay a payment-in-lieu of taxes for facilities it operates that are used for the exclusive for-profit benefit of the billionaire sports team owners as a way of helping shore up a budget shortfall the city faces. Even Citizens Energy, the nonprofit utility that operates the city water, sewer and natural gas utilities, pays a PILOT to the City on property that it owns. Apparently Sen. Kenley sees nothing wrong with Mayor Greg Ballard accessing TIF funds to shore up the city's budget or cutting public safety spending, but he threatens retribution if the City-County Council touches dollars that might instead be used to provide multi-million dollar subsidies to the billionaire sports team owners. Kenley, incidentally, sponsored that horrible bailout plan for the CIB, which it turned around and used to fund a $33.5 million subsidy to Herb Simon's Indiana Pacers. That was perfectly fine with Sen. Kenley. Is Sen. Kenley working for Herb Simon or the Indiana taxpayers?


Septly said...

I don't think Kenley needs to threaten anyone.

At the end of the day, there are not enough votes to override the inevitable veto that Ballard would deliver if a budget were passed with any fee assessed on the CIB. We have enough political theater in Congress without the City-County Council putting on an act. Don't waste everyone's time passing a budget that will be vetoed.

And, I have to say that while I don't agree with giving money to the Pacers, etc., "taxing" one governmental body to fund another is just a shell game and a joke.

The city collects plenty of money in property taxes and income tax. Perhaps, instead of giving away tax breaks to every developer with their hand out, which the City-County Council is complicit in doing, if the city actually spent the tax money it collects on services, then it would not have to worry about assessing a fee on the CIB.

Gary R. Welsh said...

It's not a shell game if the PILOT was paid by the billionaire sports team owners as it should be. Nobody else in this state gets to operate a billion-dollar business on property tax-free. Why should these greedy bastards force us to provide all the city services for them without a dime of compensation?

Had Enough Indy? said...

Jon Murray of the Star is reporting that the muni corps budgets aren't subject to the Mayor's veto.

We're talking about police and fire numbers dropping even further. The Mayor is fine with that. I'm very glad that there are Councillors who are not.

PILOTs are not new and are put into state law, presumably to be used, not as window dressing.

Septly said...

I saw Mr. Murray's comment in the Star, but I didn't see any citation to the Indiana Code, and looking up the Code, I did not find anything either under the CIB or Consolidated City sections that states anything about the Mayor lacking veto authority with respect to a municipal corporation budget, but perhaps there is aregulation or case law (though, I would still be interested to see a cite to it).

In any event, what the Mayor can definitely do is veto the whole city budget unless the City-County Council acquiesces.

And, while PILOTs may be in state law, they just don't make logical sense to me. There is one pot of money, and you can have as many separate governmental entities as you like, but they are all drawing from the same funds. If a government agency serves no purpose, then abolish it. If a government service is unnecessary, then eliminate it.

The CIB was created in the mid 1960's before the city had the Pacers or the Colts. Its purpose is to manage city properties. If the city can do this directly or more cheaply, then fine, abolish the CIB, and allow it to collect the taxes the CIB currently collects.

It just makes no freaking sense to say, "Here you government agency pay this government agency." Yes, that does seem like window dressing to me, and a dodge on addressing the real issues, like perhaps eliminating the CIB, if serves no useful purpose.

Had Enough Indy? said...

Each muni corp budget is a stand-alone proposal, separate from each other and the city-county budget.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Septly, The CIB is a separate municipal corporation created by statute; it is not a department under the mayor's control. He only gets to appoint members to the board, which exercises as the executive authority. The CCC must approve the budget. There is no provision for permitting the CIB to veto its budget ordinance; it is bound by the legislative determination.

The CIB was established when the original convention center and Market Square Arena were being planned. You have to remember that initially those facilities were more community purpose facilities. It was much later that with the construction of the Hoosier Dome that the pot was sweetened considerably to allow the professional sports teams to essentially operate them for their own exclusive benefit. It's been a slippery slope that has gotten completely out of hand. You have basic service being shafted at every turn while hundred of millions are being pumped directly into the pocket of the state's two wealthiest citizens to operate their professional sports teams.

I would also add that the PILOT enabliing statute contemplated that the CCC would levy payments-in-lieu of taxes on the facilities operated by the CIB, which are expressly covered by the statute. For whatever reason, it only levied them on the city-owned water and sewer utility. Sen. Kenley is entirely out of line for getting involved in this debate. He needs to butt his nose out. Every time he gets involved in our affairs, he makes a mess of them just like he did to the family's grocery store business that he inherited and then ran into the ground.