At the center of the debate was a $15 million one-time PILOT payment the City-County Council assessed in accordance with Indiana law against the CIB on the Lucas Oil Stadium and Bankers Life Fieldhouse, upon which no property taxes are paid even though the facilities are used 100% for the benefit of the billionaire sports team owners who lease the facilities rent-free and pocket all of the revenues generated from the public facilities built with your hard-earned tax dollars. The council budgeted the monies raised from the PILOT out of the CIB's existing $64 million budget reserves to help pay for increased public safety costs occasioned by events held annually at the CIB's facilities downtown. In retaliation for the move, Mayor Ballard slashed $32 million from the 2013 budgets of county officials, imperiling the ability of offices of the prosecutor, assessor, county clerk, recorder, and auditor, as well as the public defender agency and the county courts to function. In addition, the CIB delivered a middle finger to the council and mounted a legal challenge to the $15 million PILOT. After months of hand-wringing, council Democrats have capitulated entirely to Mayor Ballard's extortionist demands and actually rewarded the CIB with a windfall of new funding from higher taxes and from tapping property tax revenues.
In a deal announced today, the CIB has agreed to pay $5 million in 2013 for public safety costs; however, the City of Indianapolis is going to tap $5 million from the downtown TIF district, which is funded with property tax revenues, to pay for necessary improvements the CIB had budgeted to take place during 2013 to repair the Capital Commons parking garage which it is responsible for maintaining with its current revenue sources. In other words, it's a total wash. Property tax revenues are essentially being utilized to reimburse the CIB for the $5 million it has agreed to pay to the City for public safety costs. But that's not all. Council Democrat leaders also agreed to approve new tax increases to benefit the cash-rich CIB, which just opted to give another $10 million of your tax dollars to billionaire Herb Simon's Indiana Pacers, in the form of higher taxes on ticketed admissions to sporting and other public events in Marion County and higher taxes on car rentals. The CIB will share just $3 million of those new revenues after this year with the City to help defray public safety costs. Adding further insult to injury, the Council Democrats have tentatively agreed to eliminate the homestead property tax exemption that saves Indianapolis homeowners about $9 million annually as a way of raising more revenues to pay for basic city services. In addition, at least another $6 million will need to be trimmed from this year's budget to make it balanced. No sacrifice on the part of the CIB; all on the backs of agencies that provide essential city/county services.
That's the Faustian bargain the Democratic-controlled council reached with Mayor Ballard to get restored $32 million in the 2013 budget to fund the basic operations our county offices and courts are mandated by law to perform, and to hike annual spending by about $12 million. I've said it before and it bares repeating. I would rather deal with mafia bosses than the downtown mafia that controls Indianapolis city government. Mafia bosses have more integrity and are better at keeping their word than the organized crime figures parading as elected officials and civic leaders in this city. Business owners and individuals may as well be paying protection money to mafia bosses to take care of them because this is precisely what the public is required to do in this city in order to receive the basic services our local governments were established to provide with the taxes we are mandated under law to pay. These mafia bosses use our hard-earned tax revenues to fund their own corporate rackets and withhold funding for which our taxes are levied to pay until we agree to pay tributes in the form of higher taxes to these corrupt bastards. Until these people are led out of the City-County Building in handcuffs and prosecuted and put away in prison for multiple RICO violations, this will continue to be the manner in which government is operated in Indianapolis.
UPDATE: The Marion Co. GOP Chairman Kyle Walker released a statement on the deal which demonstrates that philosophically Republicans in Indianapolis are no different than the tax-and-spend liberals who control our government in Washington:
"The budget compromise between Mayor Ballard and the Council Majority is type of balanced approach we need to keep our city on solid financial footing. It enacts a 5% in spending cuts for 2013, amounting to over $2 in spending cuts for every $1 of increased revenue, while responsibly increasing public safety funding and cutting the budget deficit for 2014 from $35 million to $6 million."Of course, Walker neglects to mention that no spending reductions are required of the CIB; rather; its overall spending will be allowed to continue to grow much faster than the rate of inflations just as it has done over the last several budget cycles. What additional money is made available for public safety is still far short of restoring more than 200 police officer positions that have been shed from IMPD over the last several years despite the fact that our income taxes were raised 65% in 2007 to pay for more, not fewer police officers.
Councilor Vernon Brown, the Democrats' majority leader, leaves no doubt that he has no better than a 75 IQ. From the IBJ:
“The city has two choices: either drastically reduce services or find other revenue sources,” said Council Majority Leader Vernon Brown, a Democrat who co-sponsored the tax-hike proposals with Minority Leader Michael McQuillen.
Brown said he had reservations about the tax hikes, but he agreed to them because they're levied primarily on people who come from outside the city and take part in voluntary activities. And he said it was the only way to restore funding to county agencies.Aside from the $15 million the council found in the form of a $15 million PILOT to fund additional public safety spending to be paid from the CIB's $64 million in cash reserves and dropping Mayor Ballard's plan to eliminate the homestead property tax credit for a savings of $9 million, there was no meaningful difference between the budget passed by the council and proposed by Ballard. The mayor simply slashed $32 million in unnecessary cuts in the budgets of county offices to extort higher taxes from the council and even higher funding for the CIB than even he had proposed for the 2013 budget. Brown is a full-time firefighter who will be fired if he doesn't do what he's ordered to do by Ballard. That's about the only thing Brown is intelligent enough to understand.