Friday, February 20, 2015

Ballard Administration's Criminal Justice Center Financial Plan Based On Illusory Savings

The financial numbers proffered by the Ballard administration for constructing a new criminal justice center through a public-private partnership agreement ("P3") has never added up. A magical number of $50 million was arrived at by the administration as the figure the city-county government could afford to lay out annually in payments to the P3 vendor without incurring costs beyond what it's currently spending for existing facilities to be replaced by the new criminal justice center. The winning bid submitted by WMB Heartland Justice Partners, LLC just happened to come in under that figure at about $47 million, a figure which will grow over the life of the 35-year agreement to more than $60 million and cost nearly $1.75 billion to acquire a criminal justice center that supposedly will cost a little over $400 million to build.

As Advance Indiana has previously reported, the scope of the project was downsized considerably from what it entailed when the administration first began the process of accepting bids from prospective vendors. The size of the 1.5 million square foot complex originally envisioned shrank by nearly 280,000 square feet. Gone was office space for prosecutors and public defenders at the new facility. A new juvenile court and detention facility was also scrapped. The size of a new jail was scaled back from 3,480 beds to about 3,000 beds, still more space than what the sheriff currently has between Jail I and Jail II. Space for criminal courts grew from 240,000 to 267,000 to accommodate four more criminal courts, bringing the total number of criminal court rooms at the new facility to 28.

The administration has not provided a detailed financial analysis which compares the actual costs for all of the existing facilities that will be relocated to the new facility. What is known is that substantial cost savings will have to be reached to realize the administration's claim that the new facility won't cost a dime more than is currently spent on existing facilities. The sheriff's office will be expected to reduce its headcount to operate the jail by at least 200. Now the Marion Co. Clerk's Office is learning that the administration expects deep cuts in that office as well. WTHR's Mary Milz says the Clerk's office is being told it will have to cut its budget by $700,000 a year, which would require the elimination of 20 deputy clerks or one manager and 18 deputy clerks. Marion Co. Clerk Myla Eldridge claims the budget cut numbers had never been discussed with her office, a claim Deputy Mayor Adam Collins disputes. Collins claims changes in operations in the new facility should allow both the sheriff's office and the clerk's office to achieve the required savings.

Some Democratic council members told Milz they believe the administration's estimates are off by as much as $12 to $15 million. The sheriff's office has been working with the administration's high-paid consultant, KPMG, to determine how its savings can be achieved, but the clerk's office doesn't believe further budget cuts in their budget is realistic. Eldridge complains that her office's budget has already been cut several times over the past few years. The Democratic-controlled council has hired its own outside counsel to help it crunch the numbers to come up with its own financial analysis since the administration has so far refused or failed to do that. That study is expected to take at least a month. The Ballard administration wants the council to approve the deal by the end of next month even though it has still not produced key documents related to the deal. Advance Indiana's past research on this subject has come to the conclusion that the administration engaged in a rigged bidding process that ensured WMB Heartland Justice Partners would be the winning bidder, noting that virtually the same cast of characters who participated in this bidding process were also involved in the Long Beach, California courthouse project that was awarded to some of these same participants.


Anonymous said...

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to grasp that Ballard's Criminal Justice Center Financial Plan and the entire proposed project are nothing more than a pack of lies. Greg Ballard is an abysmal failure on so many levels. He is an incredibly stupid man willing to be led by a ring through his nose by BT, construction company owners, and campaign donors.

Anonymous said...

The articles here cause me to wonder if I missed Joe Hogsett's full position on the proposed Criminal Justice Center? Have I missed Joe Hogsett's full explanation of the complete history of his legal residences and his voting wards and precincts through the years? What is Joe Hogsett's track record protecting and promoting honesty and transparency in government when he was the US Attorney for the Southern District? Has Joe Hogsett publicly explained to his potential Marion County voters why he refused to acknowledge the political corruption we non-lawyers see in this town daily let alone do anything about it? How long has Joe Hogsett been a resident of Indianapolis in the sense he grew up here, attended our schools, reared a family? Is Joe Hogsett another carpetbagger come to town to cherry pick a "cush" paycheck and some political bennies just like Chuck Brewer?


Perhaps the current lead Democrat for Indy Mayor keeps his mouth shut because his explanations could raise even more questions about his apparent turned blind eye when it comes to political corruption.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Joe Hogsett can't take a position on the Criminal Justice Center because Ballard is paying his law firm's lobbying arm $750,000 to lobby the City-County Council for its approval.

Anonymous said...

Gary, as usual you are correct. I claim temporary amnesia on that salient point. (Anon 9:39)

Anonymous said...

You mean the $50M maximum payment Ballard's team of tools came up with is based on voodoo math? You could have knocked me over with a feather on that one. How dare we doubt the king!