State Senator Pete Miller, R-Avon, is the author of that law. He says the intent of the legislation is to reign in redevelopment departments and add accountability.
“We appreciate the work of redevelopment commissions but at the end of the day they’re still appointed officials and we’re dealing with millions of dollars of tax payer money,” Miller says. “We want to have someone that the tax payer has elected to make the call at key points in the process.”
But Terre Haute is one of 21 second class cities in Indiana where the city controller is appointed by the mayor, not publicly elected.Interestingly, Mayor Bennett did not deny that TIF funds were being tapped to make up payroll shortfalls, but he says the funds at the end of the day will be used for their intended purpose.
Frankly, I have no problem at all with cities accessing TIF funds when it has shortfalls in funding basic city services. Yes, paying your city employees is a core function of city government. Handing out money to campaign contributors for supposed economic development activities should hardly be considered a priority. As fellow blogger Pat Andrews has pointed out, the City of Indianapolis has repeatedly tapped other funds to cover shortfalls in the City's TIF funds to the tune of tens of millions of dollars without complaint from anyone. Indianapolis now diverts upwards of $120 million annually in property tax funds to the TIF slush funds that are passed out like candy to developers who are stuffing money in the politicians' pockets. Indianapolis could easily meet its public safety funding obligations if it accessed its flush TIF funds, but then it wouldn't have as much money to pay out to campaign contributors. Instead, our mayor and city council want to force taxpayers to dig deeper into their pockets, which demonstrates just how much contempt they have for the people they supposedly represent.