Monday, August 05, 2013

Who's Mayor? Ballard Or Vaughn?

If you believe Greg Ballard, he has no idea what Ryan Vaughn, his chief of staff, or Jason Dudich, the city's controller, are proposing for next year's budget. The two could not have been more direct in their discussions with the IBJ's Kathleen McLaughlin of the possibility of seeking an increase in the local income tax next year to close what they claim is a $55 million budget deficit. Vaughn told McLaughlin an income tax increase isn't off the table. "It's an ongoing conversation," Vaughn said, referring to the tax increase option. Dudich told McLaughlin he is recommending against the option of tapping city reserves to close the budget gap, including the remaining $80 million in the fiscal stability fund set up following the creation of the sale of the water and sewer utilities to Citizens Energy, leaving a choice between deep cuts or another tax increase.

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?


Paul K. Ogden said...

By their own admission, the $23 million subsidy of the Market Square Development will net an additional $500,000 a year (which as you note will go into a TIF district, not the general fund.) That means it will take 46 years to recoup our investment.

CircleCityScribe said...

"Ballard told a State House committee today that Indianapolis is in danger of becoming another Detroit if his multi-billion dollar metropolitan mass transit (tax and spend) plan isn't adopted."

That is very interesting, especially since Detroit does NOT have rail and it's metropolitan area is booming!!! -Wonder if it is because the gang members, criminals, or thugs have to take the bus to go far outside the danger zone to commit crimes?

The Detroit suburbs are safe...and maybe it is because there is no tax and spend mass transit system to export the crime!!!

By the way, here is a favorite read of mine on just how Indianapolis is becoming South Detroit...

Anonymous said...

Remember those idiots like Jennifer Wagner and the other tax-and-spend libs who say "you can't be a suburb of nothing?"

Detroit and others are proof that the new model of an American "city" is a metro area. With abundant highways, a metro area doesn't need a city core.

Anchor cities and downtowns are obsolete or greatly reduced in importance in metro areas.