Monday, August 06, 2007

Mayor Peterson: It's The State's Fault

Mayor Bart Peterson delivered his 2008 city budget address to the City-County Council tonight. He took credit for all that is good. He blamed others for all that is wrong. To ensure a favorable audience, Peterson's staff filled more than half of the Public Assembly room's seats with city and county employees who owe their job to Peterson. Dozens of citizens were locked out in the heat outside the City-County Building, told there was no room for them. Before Mayor Peterson spoke, CCC President Monroe Gray (D) made it clear there would be no public testimony tonight in response to the Mayor's budget address. When Mayor Peterson rose to deliver his speech, a number of audience members staged a walk out in protest.

Peterson boasted that he had implemented $83 million in spending cuts since he's been mayor, and that he's ordered $13 million in new cuts. The Mayor was originally scheduled to detail those cuts tonight, but his staff announced a short time before tonight's meeting his administrative agency heads needed more time to work out the details. He claims the mergers of fire departments and law enforcement agencies have netted taxpayers more than $20 million in savings. And he even boasted that he is collecting less in property taxes from you to support city-county services than when he first took office. He says he's going to reduce property tax-funded services by another $50 million, or an 11% reduction. Thanks to that $90 million, 65% increase in your local option income tax, he thinks you should be happy property tax levies for all taxing districts except schools will be frozen for 2 years. He'll add another 100 police officers he says. Does that mean simply filling the 145 vacant positions already existing in the department and calling them new officers? He's ended early releases he says, but the truth is the changes implemented last year kept folks from being locked up in the first instance for a number of criminal charges upon which they were previously held because they couldn't afford the bail, negating the need for early releases. But let's not confuse folks with the facts.

On the question of facts, Mayor Peterson complained about "politically-charged myths masquerading as facts" surrounding this year's property tax debacle. First, he blamed all the township assessors for not properly assessing businesses, thereby causing a big shift to homeowners. Secondly, he blamed the state for implementing the "fair market value" property tax assessment method pursuant to court order, a 6-year lag since the last reassessment, the use of trending, the elimination of the inventory tax, a freeze on the property tax replacement credit and a change in the school aid formula. Essentially, he accepted responsibility for nothing.

Now, Mayor Peterson needs to explain what happened to the new revenues he raised from his first COIT increase from 0.7% to 1.0%, a 43% or $42 million annual increase. Before we could even figure that out, he got another $90 million annual increase in the COIT. While Mayor Peterson likes to brag that his portion of property tax revenues represented only 3% of the amount collected, his policies greatly impact the taxes levied by other taxing districts. His administration has awarded hundreds of millions in property tax abatements affecting all taxing districts, and a growing number of TIF districts are capturing growth in new property tax revenues to the detriment of other taxing districts. That results in a major shift in tax burden from the businesses receiving the benefit of these tax breaks to other taxpayers. It's easy to blame the schools for increasing your property taxes, but they have no other choice than to collect more from other taxpayers when the administration removes part of the base from the only source of taxes they receive--the property tax. Mayor Peterson omitted the more than $300 million the state has reimbursed Marion Co. for property tax abatement incentives to lessen the impact. Moreover, Mayor Peterson has taken the city deeply into debt over the past 8 years--a 1000% plus increase--thereby putting a further strain on city finances.

For someone who has had 8 years to get the city's finances in order and fight the war on crime, Mayor Peterson demonstrated tonight a complete lack of accountability for what ills the city. It was offensive and insulting to the city's residents. If the city's voters fall for the line of crap the Mayor fed them tonight, they deserve the worst government Peterson has proven himself all too capable of delivering to them.

Marion Co. GOP Chairman complained in a press release tonight that Mayor Peterson turned his address into a campaign rally by stacking the audience with his employees while locking out members of the public from the City-County Building. "It is despicable that Peterson would go to such lengths to stifle the public to try to make himself look good,” John stated. “Peterson reiterated past proposals of how he will spend his $90 million dollar tax increase. The remainder of his presentation was devoted to blaming Governor Daniels and the General Assembly for not doing more to allow Peterson to spend more without raising property taxes,” stated John. “Peterson told us nothing about how he will get his budget under control, a budget that has expanded by over $300 million since he took office.”

Similarly, GOP mayoral candidate Greg Ballard accused Mayor Peterson of making a campaign speech instead of addressing a financial crisis. He released this statement:

The citizens of Indianapolis have been waiting for weeks to learn how the Mayor will curb out-of-control spending, the root cause of skyrocketing tax rates. Instead, Bart Peterson took a pass. The Mayor promised budget cuts weeks ago. We have not seen a single one. Instead, we learn that the Mayor's Budget will increase once again. To say the Mayor's presentation was disappointing would be an understatement the size of Peterson's budget deficit.

What we saw tonight was not a budget presentation; it was a campaign speech. Bart Peterson tried to tell us of all the "wonderful" things he has done for the city and assures us he will make it all better. The people of Indianapolis know better. The budget has increased over $300 million since he took office. He has raised taxes 18 times in two years. Bond debt is up over 3000% to pay for even more spending. Bart Peterson has failed in managing our city's finances, and the people have had enough.


Sir Hailstone said...

I wonder where Wilson was in that crowd?

Wilson46201 said...

I had found a nice "Bart Peterson for Mayor" T-shirt to wear there tonight but it was just too damn hot to sweat going downtown ... I stayed in my nicely air-conditioned house and watched the fun and games on TV.

Anonymous said...

So the mayor gets to RAISE the COIT by 90 million AND take the Police and fire pension dollars OUT OF the budget and use 30 million of the COIT increase this year to add to the budget and he still has to make budget cuts ?

Pike Voter

Anonymous said...

Wilson...sweating...ugh...thanks for that mental image.

My eyes! My eyes!

Anonymous said...

Tax and spend is all he's done, adding patronage employees and refusing to hire basic customer service level employees...and he wouldn't hire police for two years, anyone wonder about the crime problem?

There is no accountability, either..."The buck never got here" is his slogan.

Anonymous said...

So, Wilson, none of what was brought up tonight about the Mayor's lack of compassion for the public, or his budget cuts preparedness disturbs you? It's frightening how your party has blinded you...

Ashamed really. It's about as bad as people who stills support Bush.


Anonymous said...


INTRODUCED: 08/06/2007

REFERRED TO: Rules and Public Policy Committee

SPONSOR: Councillors Gray, Keller and Brown

DIGEST: amends the Code to establish a crime prevention advisory board for the purpose of reviewing
and making recommendations regarding funding of crime prevention initiatives and programs


Proposal 334 is another TAX & SPEND ordinance, that would create a whole bunch more PATRONAGE employees......

...let me guess the short list of the patronage hire-ons: Julia Carson, whose family experience with crime renders her an authority; Steve Talley, who, by virtue of his political affiliation makes him a shoe-in; Carl Drummer, who by virtue of having himself over 100 patronage employees as Center Twp Trustee, also has a title Deputy Constable of Center Twp, so he is qualified by his constabulary; Jerry McCory by virtue of connections; Cody Johnson, whose brother is on the Airport Authority Board and part-owner of the bar in the Center Twp Trustee building.

Yep, as you can see the above new-hires on the city payroll are essential and their vast experience will allow them to hold the requisite "make-work, do-nothing" job as member of the Crime Prevention Advisory Board!

Anonymous said...

"We need a Patronage Committe of Democrats to be paid TAX money with make-work, do-nothing jobs"


Anonymous said...

Bart and the Ghetto Mafia realize that the public are now fully aware that they are crooks.

Now, they can simply do what they want to do without regard to conscious.


Anonymous said...

Like Sweat pea says, "if u go da juice".

Anonymous said...

I was at the Mayor's presentation and I came away with the impression that I had just witnessed a well staged propaganda taken straight out of the Karl Rove playbook.
Salting the crowd with shills feeding at the trough from patronage jobs was disingenious at best and disgraceful at the least.

When a two term Mayor has to resort to this type of campaign tactic you can rest assured that reelection is not in the bag regardless of how much cash in the war chest.

You are absolutely right Gary, if voters are as stupid as the Mayor makes them out to be then they deserve exactly what they get.

Russ said...

I'm surprised that Mayor McCheese's #1 blogosphere toady Wilson didn't have a seat up front. Maybe his importance is overstated...

I'm glad that Bart continues to blame the state for not passing Indy Works and claims that he's saved money on the police merger when it was reported in the Star the other day that there weren't any savings. That's okay if you don't read the paper, Mayor... none of the rest of us do either, but you ought to at least float a bone to the rah-rah political hacks over there who are still delusionally in your corner.

David Myers said...

I am applaud by the city county counsel last night.

There was an announcement that anyone disrupting the meeting would be removed from the chamber. When Mr. Peterson was introduced, more the half of the attendees stood and clapped for at least three minutes. When I stood and stated that “I thought no one was to detrude this meeting, I was escorted out of the CC building. Does this city counsel rules only apply to the democrats? I am sure if we stood after Petersons people got done and express our displeasure of him by booing that we would have been removed. Do these rules only apply to the people who are discontent with the CCC or are they for all people? We were told in earlier meeting to not to applaud.

Also, I find it disturbing that many city employees were let in thru the CCC members entrances when many citizens were made to wait outside while they were being sited first. It seems that many that sits on the CCC does not want the citizens of this city to put fourth their opinions of what is taking place in our town.

In concluding, it seems that the rules of the counsel is upheld when they disagree of what is taking place at their meetings.

Anonymous said...

The mayors reply to Chan 8 about people not getting in.

"I think it's, uh, a reason to be concerned if people feel like they weren't able to be heard. I know there were a lot of folks who were there who believe in the message that I was trying to convey, who, who support us, who didn't get in either. So, it was a lot of people who got in from uh, who were, uh, there because they wanted to hear what I had to say. A lot of other folks who were there because they wanted to protest, got in and then a combination of both who didn't get in as well because there weren't enough seats," said Mayor Bart Peterson.

Not the greatest off the cuff statement ever mad !