Tuesday, June 11, 2013
City-County Council Approves $30 Million Tax Abatement For Eli Lilly
The Indianapolis City-County Council last night approved a new $30 million tax abatement for Eli Lilly for a planned expansion of one of its existing manufacturing facilities. Remarkably, Councilor Leroy Robinson, in whose committee the propoosal was heard, had no idea what the size of the tax abatement was when questioned by another councilor about it. He turned to representatives of Eli Lilly to provide the answer. Their representatives pegged the value of the 10-year abatement to be anywhere from $22 to $30 million. The council at the same meeting approved $1.6 million in new budgets cuts across several city agencies, including public safety, as part of its agreement to find $11 million in cuts in this year's budget. The city controller says the city is facing a $55 million budget deficit next year.
The City has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in tax incentives to Lilly in the past. Despite promises of new jobs, Lilly failed to deliver and has shed thousands of jobs from its Indianapolis workforce during the past decade. Representatives of the company conceded the company had reduced its workforce in Indianapolis. When City-County Councilor Brian Mahern, the only council member to oppose the abatement, challenged the request in light of the large tax breaks afforded the company in the past, Lilly lobbyist Mike O'Connor, a former deputy mayor under former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, a Lilly Vice-President, seemed to make a less than thinly-veiled threat that the manufacturing plant could be located elsewhere if the city didn't approve the tax abatement request. Other council members chided Mahern for his tough questioning of the granting of additional tax incentives to Lilly. Some of these same council members have no qualms, however, about eliminating the homestead property tax credit that provides about $12 million in annual tax relief to homeowners.
In the video above, City-County Councilor William Oliver inappropriately asks the Lilly representatives if he can receive a discount on his prescription drugs if he agreed to vote for the measure. City-County Council President Maggie Lewis quickly cut him off. "You can't do that. No one respond, Lewis said, adding "Maybe off air, Councilor Oliver." Oliver responded, "I don't get no Colts tickets, no Pacers tickets, no nothing? That pretty much sums up the attitude of too many council members. Take care of yourself first. We continuously see the council handing out large tax breaks and public subsidies to private business interests at the same time they are forced to make deep cuts in basic city services. They look at us as if we're to blame because we aren't paying enough in taxes. They can never seem to say no, however, to the people making generous campaign contributions to their campaigns, buying meals for them and giving them free tickets to Colts and Pacers games.