Sunday, January 13, 2013

Tale Of Two TIF Proposals

The Indianapolis City-County Council will hear proposals this week to create two new TIF districts. One TIF district includes some of the most upscale and well-developed areas of the City's northside. The other includes some of the poorest areas on the City's northeastside and is largely populated by African-Americans. Guess which proposal the Star is pulling out all the stops to promote passage of and which one it's ignoring.? Of course, the Star is pushing passage of the Midtown TIF and ignoring discussion of the proposed TIF for the Avondale-Meadows area.

Not only does the Midtown TIF take in the high-income Butler-Tarkington and Meridian-Kessler neighborhoods, it also reaches into the overdeveloped Broad Ripple Village--even capturing the new parking garage/commercial space being built by one of Mayor Greg Ballard's biggest campaign contributors, Ersal Ozdemir, with nearly $6.5 million of your taxpayer dollars. TIF districts are only suppose to eat what they create, but all such rules have been discarded in Indianapolis in the increasing effort to divert as many property tax dollars into slush funds to be used to finance the development projects of the politicians' political cronies. The creation of the TIF district should make the bankrupting of IPS a fait accompli, which is the ultimate goal of the proponents of these TIF districts.

The story by Jon Murray reads more like an opinion piece promoting passage of the Midtown TIF proposal than a factual story that provides full disclosure to the Star's readers on just how badly TIF districts have eroded the property tax base and the negative impact they have on our ability to fund essential government services. Councilor Christine Scales complains that the Star has refused to discuss with her the proposed TIF area for the Avondale-Meadows area, which she is sponsoring. Murray's story mentions it parenthetically only in passing: "(Also on the agenda is a smaller proposed TIF district for the Meadows area near 38th Street and Keystone Avenue.)" According to Scales, the council plans to kill her proposed TIF district. "I have emailed [Matt] Tully, Erika Smith, [Dan] Carpenter, [and] the [Star] Editorial Board on multiple occasions about Dems trying to kill our TIF for political reasons, asked them to publicize the worthiness of our TIF in contrast to others," Scales laments. "No response whatsoever." Scales says the council's leadership views her TIF proposal as competing against the Midtown TIF pushed by Councilor John Barth, which it believes is more worthy of consideration despite the fact that her TIF proposal is the only one on the table that truly addresses an area of the City that is severely economically depressed.

UPDATE: Councilor Christine Scales has posted this comment on Facebook in response to today's Star propaganda piece in favor of the Midtown TIF:
The Avondale Meadows TIF will also be considered by the MEDC tomorrow evening. Not one word about it in The Star. This area, also still known as The Phoenix Meadows area, along 38th St. and Keystone, is a food desert and is one of the most blighted, crime ridden, hopeless areas of the city. Of all previously considered TIFS, this is the one that most meets the standards of criteria for a TIF. It has enjoyed some uplifting in recent years due to private monies invested by a local philanthropist, Gene Zink and initially spearheaded by former Mayor Peterson. I have begged columnists, editorial writers and other Staff members to shed a light on the need for this TIF and the political maneuverings that are trying to kill it. But the poorest, most vulnerable, voiceless, and politically unconnected residents of our city don't merit The Star's attention. Of course, I doubt any of them live in the Avondale Meadows area-but they do live in the proposed MIdtown TIF area. Star staffers-go see Les Miserable and recognize yourselves as part of historic elite who trample on the hopes of the poorest of the poor."


Pete Boggs said...

Ms Scales is a true representative. TIFS have become schemes exceeding bonafide intent. Broad Ripple "needs" a TIF?

Had Enough Indy? said...

The snobbery involved with the mid-north proposal is amazing. Barth clearly says it is to keep well to do people in Marion County.

It is not about revitalization - this area is seeing more investment the old fashioned capitalist way than most areas of Indy. These folks want it to invigorate faster. They want more tony places to dine and mingle.

They want to be treated differently - that they get to keep their tax dollars and spend them on public art, park improvements, and to fulfill promises Ryan Vaughn made to a favorite developer. Oh, and if it really gets going, Mapleton-Fall Creek can get some, too.

But the Meadows TIF - its just one of the most crime ridden areas full of poor people who desperately need a grocery store.

What would you choose - help those who do not need help, or help those who do?