When Ballard spoke to his paid media flack, Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, after testifying today at a State House hearing in favor of a local income tax increase to finance a multi-billion dollar metropolitan mass transit plan, here's what he had to say about the tax increase talk as part of next year's budget plan: "Until I saw that this morning, I never even heard of that. I don't know where that came from. It certainly hasn't crossed my desk or crossed my lips. I'm not sure where all that came from, frankly." Asked if a tax increase is on the table, he responded, "No one's told me about that if it is. We have to understand. We're not as efficient as we should be. People can say these things all they want . . . It's how you do the business . . . we have to buy lower crime . . . until we get to that point . . . I don't think any consideration of a tax increase makes sense." Apparently Bob Grand and Vaughn haven't bothered to brief Ballard on what his budget plan is yet. He's too busy getting ready for his next overseas trip to Cologne, Germany next month.
Questioned about critics claims that public safety has not been a priority of his like downtown development and public subsidies for the billionaire owners of the sports teams, Ballard said those other efforts are intended to expand the tax base. Au contraire, Mr. Mayor. Your policies are decimating the city's property tax base that we rely upon to fund basic services. He tosses out the claim that we expect to get a half million dollars a year in income tax revenues from the new Market Square Arena 28-story luxury apartment building project that city taxpayers are financing to the tune of $24 million. All property taxes collected from the new development will go into the downtown TIF, not the city's general fund. Talk to local real estate experts. Most of them think that the proposed luxury apartment building is going to become the city's biggest white elephant because the building's owners won't be able to charge high enough rents to cover the enormous debt and high maintenance costs. Look back at what happened to Riley Towers when they were first constructed more than 30 years ago. Memories are short.
UPDATE: WRTV's Norm Cox reports that Ballard told a State House committee today that Indianapolis is in danger of becoming another Detroit if his multi-billion dollar metropolitan mass transit plan isn't adopted.
Ballard raised the possibility of Indianapolis becoming another Detroit if it can't provide the services people want and need.
"If we do not become a city that is attractive to young families, young professionals, young businesses, then we are going to die. That's just the way I see it," Ballard said.Ballard also made dire predictions if Indianapolis didn't provide subsidies to the Indiana Pacers and they moved to another city as a consequence. Hey, Greg, Detroit has four professional sports teams compared to Indianapolis' two professional teams. Having a football, basketball, baseball and hockey team have done wonders for Detroit, eh?