Sunday, October 19, 2014

Indianapolis Library Board Crafts $59 Million Indebtedness For Construction Projects To Evade Referendum Requirement

The Indianapolis Public Library Board in August approved incurring a total of $59 million in debt over the next six years for a series of improvements to existing library branches, as well as the construction of new library branches. A resolution (Proposal No. 302) has been introduced in the Indianapolis City-County Council by Councilors Monroe Gray (D), Vop Osili (D), Robert Lutz (R), John Barth (D) and Steve Talley (D). The proposal would give the board approval to issue a series of bonds over the next several years, including the following:
  • Brightwood Branch Improvement Project-$5.945 million
  • Eagle Branch Improvement Project-$7.66 million
  • Perry Township Branch Improvement Project-$9.415 million
  • Michigan Road Branch Improvement Project-$7.565 million
  • Fort Benjamin Harrison Improvement Project-$10.215 million
  • Multi-branch Facility Improvement Project-$8.2 million
What is particularly troubling about the tact being utilized by the library board is that it seems intentionally designed to break up all of these construction projects into multiple projects with separate bond issuances for the sole purpose of evading the protection property taxpayers have in state law, which requires public improvement projects above a certain dollar threshold ($12 million) that are financed through property tax levies to be approved by voters at a referendum. Each of the bond issuances are crafted to walk up to but not cross that threshold.

The construction projects themselves are very ambitious. The largest project is a new Glendale branch on 6 acres where it seems a lot of money was already invested on the existing branch to accommodate a particular politically-connected real estate developer. The others as described by the IBJ, include:
  • A new branch library is being built in the Brightwood neighborhood on 4 acres of land to replace the current branch.
  • The Eagle branch is replaced with a new branch on 5 acres.  
  • Michigan Road gets a new branch that sits on 5 acres.
  • Perry Township gets a new branch that sits on 6 acres.
  • The new branch at Fort Benjamin Harrison sits on 5 acres.
If you're keeping count, that's over 60 acres of land for new libraries. I haven't assessed the need for these projects, but if the City-County Council is following state law, it will tell the library board it gets one bite at the apple on this major undertaken, which must go before voters at a referendum to let them decide if they want to pay higher property taxes to build more library branches.


Paul K. Ogden said...

Why would branches needs so much acreage? Those are some really big lots.

Anonymous said...

What role might Indianapolis Public Library CEO Jackie Nytes (Democrat)- anointed to the office for her cloying support of any crony deal Ballard pushed at the beck and call of his political masters- play in the Board’s under-handed tact to keep a half dozen taxpayer funded projects from the disinfectant of the light of day? Nytes is one of our local poster gals for political hacks who always have one eyeball keenly trained on the end goal of personal aggrandizement.

To learn which Councilors introduced the expensive proposal crafted to evade due diligence to the taxpayer is to see Indy’s usual flank of fools. And to think Osili was once touted as a potential mayoral candidate… just what we need, another Greg Ballard where the rule of day is that the process and cost for the taxpayers be damned. The overwhelming Democrat support for spending for this type of skullduggery bodes exactly what we can expect under the near future Democrat mayor.

This is how a banana republic works… keep the “civic” projects out of reach of laws or rules enacted to supposedly protect the public from just this type of intentional deceit.