We're not going to get any answers about how Mayor Greg Ballard and the Indianapolis City-County Council pilfered the hundreds of millions of dollars raised by the 65% increase in the county option income tax increase that was supposed to have been dedicated to public safety in 2007. Instead, the City-County Council is taking the first step in passing another round of massive tax hikes like they did last night when they approved the expansion of the special police taxing district for IMPD. This allows new tax levies to be imposed on all of the Republican areas of the county who foolishly believed that by electing a Republican mayor and Republican council members during the 2007 tax-uprising election year that they were electing fiscally conservative leadership. We now know that when it comes to tax, spend and borrowing matters, Republicans in this city think no differently than Democrats, and that their number one priority is making sure that there are plenty of tax dollars available to pass out as subsidies to the pay-to-play club members who finance their campaigns and the billionaire sports team owners who give them free tickets to Colts and Pacers games.
The council members who voted for this property tax increase will tell you that it means more money for police, but it's a lie. Council members who voted for this tax increase will tell you that it's a matter of fairness. That's another lie. They argue that when they merged IMPD and the Sheriff's Department in 2006 they didn't extend this tax levy to the new service areas because of the nearly half-billion dollar public pension debt that needed to be paid off--one of the reasons they gave for passing that 65% increase in the county option income tax in 2007. The police merger was supposed to achieve tens of millions of dollars in savings, but that was a total lie. That half billion dollar debt vanished with the passage of the 2008 property tax reform package passed by the state legislature. But why didn't our taxes go down if we know longer had to repay that debt? The short answer is that the people you elect to run your local government are very dishonest people who play shell games with our money. For one thing, the current special police taxing district's tax base has been gutted by the ever-expanding TIF districts that accumulate hundreds of millions of property tax revenues in slush funds that are used to reward the corrupt politicians' campaign contributors. The special police taxing district has to be expanded to find more suckers to pay taxes that are used to fund the corrupt endeavors of our elected officials. Dedicated revenue is a loosely-used term by dishonest elected officials who tell you one thing as they are voting to raise your taxes and then use the money for something else. You ain't seen nothing yet. The even larger tax increase is coming up next. This is what happens when you elect dishonest, corrupt people to run your local government.
Here's how your council members voted last night (15-12) on this latest shell game move. I've included their party affiliation, but as you can tell by the way the vote was taken in the video above, it's just a game for these people. It took more time to take the vote than to debate the tax increase when they finally arrived at that magical 15th vote needed to pass the measure. To be more precise, there was no debate over this tax increase. Most of them are playing for the same team, and that team doesn't include the average taxpayers who foot the bill:
UPDATE: I went back and checked on what the actual figure for the savings from the merger was supposed to be. At the time, proponents claimed the police merger would save $9 million annually. It became apparent the very first year that cost savings were wildly inflated. They had anticipated that former sheriff's department employees would stop participating in social security once they become IMPD employees but that never happened. They continued to participate in both social security and their government-funded pension, which meant the city had to continue paying their matching contribution to social security. Of course, the biggest hint that no real savings were achieved came when they told us we had to raise the county option income tax the following year by 65% for public safety.
The independent-thinking Councilor Christine Scales (R), who got booted out of her own caucus for daring to think like a Republican, shared these comments on Facebook today in response to the criticism by Acting Mayor Ryan Vaughn concerning the City-County Council's decision to only go along with extending the boundaries police special taxing district and not approving the elimination of the homestead property tax credit that Ballard is demanding the council eliminate.
Did Vaughn really have the audacity to claim that the Democrat's budget plan consists of "spending like there's no tomorrow?" The reason we're in this mess is because that is exactly what the Mayor has been doing since the day he came into office. The Mayor campaigned as a fiscal conservative, one who vowed to put 300 officers on the street without raising taxes. That was his number one stated priority. He has handed out tax dollars to already wealthy developers as incentives to build more of what the city already has. He failed to negotiate a better deal with the already wealthy Pacers owners to save the city a few million dollars. If only he had negotiated with our sports teams in as hardball a fashion as he has negotiated with police officers. They aren't coming around after a deal has already been agreed upon, asking for more. They only ask for the salaries they were promised in a contract, but he is forcing them to accept less. The slap in the face that stings the hardest, I'm sure for our first responders is that in the toughest of budget times, the Mayor can choose to spend scarce budget dollars on cricket over cops. Just curious, when Vaughn made his comment, did he say it with a straight face?