A story in the Star by Jon Murray makes absolutely no mention of a separate plan he reported on this past week under which Ballard intends to dramatically increase stormwater fees paid by Indianapolis property owners on their property tax bills in order to finance tens of millions annually in new spending on stormwater sewer projects to reduce flooding in certain neighborhoods, projects which aren't included in the proposed spending despite the fact that Rebuild Indy funds came from the sale of the city's water and sewer utilities to Citizens Energy. Those same fees were doubled just seven years ago to address the same problem. Yet Ballard brags that this new spending is being accomplished without raising taxes. Regardless, the new spending announced by Ballard yesterday will be music to the ears of the pay-to-play contractors who have poured millions into his campaign coffers and lavished gifts on him and his wife, including numerous overseas junkets.
His plan to borrow $135 million would extend the life of the city’s massive, 3-year-old RebuildIndy initiative another year, through 2016.
Among the projects will be 40 miles of new sidwalks, including along Troy on the Southside and Hague on the Northeastside.
All told, the proposed bond money would combine with federal grants and other previously planned spending using regular state and local tax sources to total $350 million in the next three years. The city would sell bonds and tap an increased gas tax revenue to pay off the debt over the next 30 years.
That means more repaved roads, more repaired bridges, more miles of trails and, yes, more sidewalks.
Ballard made the announcement Thursday afternoon outside the Southside Boys & Girls Club branch, flanked by city and community leaders.
“People want their infrastructure fixed, no question about that,” Ballard told The Indianapolis Star. “The level we want to get to, I’m not sure if there’s enough money to get there. But we’ll give it a shot.”
Still, even the increased project spending would be insufficient to meet the city’s backlog of needs. City leaders estimated in 2009 that bringing city streets, bridges, sidewalks and alleys up to “acceptable condition” would take $1.5 billion.According to the story, Ballard claims the City can afford to pay debt service on the new borrowing from future revenues it collects from the state's gasoline tax, which it claims will increase by about $7.5 million a year, $7 million of which can be used for project spending, as a result of changes made in allocations from the motor vehicle highway fund this year. The City netted about $430 million from the sale of the water and sewer utilities that went into the mayor's signature Rebuild Indy fund. About $120 million of those funds remain; however, $80 million has been separated off, Ballard claims, to help maintain the city's credit rating.