Sunday, October 05, 2008

Indy's Spending Priorities

The Star's Brendan O'Shaughnessy pens a story today on the City of Indianapolis' spending priorities. His conclusion:

Indianapolis spends far less than these other cities on government -- and consequently spends far less on such things as parks, public transportation, the arts and libraries, amenities that some people view as optional but that experts see as critical to making a city vibrant and competitive.

Indianapolis' spending choices underscore two core community values: thrift and an affinity for small government . . .

Overall, spending of tax dollars per person in Indianapolis next year will amount to about $1,420. That's roughly half what Denver, Portland and Seattle spent per resident last year and about $550 less than Charlotte, according to The Star's review of city budgets.

What's missing here? Lucas Oil Stadium? Conseco Fieldhouse? NCAA headquarters? Super Bowl? Yes, Indianapolis has a spending priority. It's SPORTS! The word doesn't even appear in the story. What's up with that? His story indicates our spending is on par with other city's when it comes to public safety, but lags behind in spending on parks, public transportation, libraries and the arts. I think O'Shaughnessy really should have included the sports' component in his analysis. It helps explain a lot. I would also be curious how the amount of tax subsidies for business, including tax abatements, infrastructure improvements, job training grants, etc. compares to other cities.


Citizen Kane said...

A comprehensive analysis from the Star; surely you jest?

No one wants to connect the dots and admit that the so-called successful sports / convention / tourism strategy is the perfect example of misplaced priorities.

Downtown Indy said...

"Indianapolis spends far less than these other cities on government"

And too much spent on/given to private corporations.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Downtown Indy,

You're exactly right. I'll give you an example.

In 1985, the City of Indianapolis GAVE the Indiana Sports Corporation an entire city block with the only purchase price being that the Sports Corporation had to build and maintain a public plaza for 30 years, now known as the Pan Am Plaza.

If the Sports Corporation wanted out of the plaza requirement early the corporation was required to pay the City of Indianapolis $3 million adjusted for inflation which would be in today's dollars $6 million. The Sports Corp. though wanted to sell the property without the 88,000 square foot plaza requirement. They saw an opportunity after Peterson lost and before Ballard took over. So the Sports Corporation people and the Peterson administration soquietly slipped through a resolution at the Metropolitan Development Commission that virtually elminiated the plaza requirement allowing the Sports Corporation to sell the property without paying the City a dime.

The fact they were trying to sneak it through without raising red flags is reflected in the fact that the resolution did not even mention the original 88,000 feet plaza requirement and did not mention the millions the city was foregoing by modifying the 1985agreement. It was a very calculated deliberative effort to deprive taxpayers of the deal that was negotiated in 1985. Clearly Democrat Mayor Peterson was doing this to help out Sports Corporation President, Susan Williams, also a Democrat.

I have no doubt that Mayor Ballard was not briefed about the fiscal impact of what they were doing in late December with the Pan Am Plaza deal. Nonetheless, Mayor Ballard has now decided to take the fall for the last minute shenanigans of the Democrat administration. Worse yet, Mayor Ballard is currently using taxpayer money to do it by using City Legal to fight against taxpayers who are demanding that this last minute deal be exposed and the Sports Corporation be required to pay up.

I can only suppose this political bonehead plitical move was pushed upon Mayor Ballard by an advisor who quite likely had a financial interest in the Pan Am Plaza deal and who is currently on the board of the Sports Corporation.

M Theory said...

Mayor Ballard will likely take the fall because of his association with Bob Grand and Joe Loftus.

Behind the scenes people laugh that they bought our mayor for $5,000 in contributions.

It's sickening.

mackenzie197 said...


As an investment it still rates behind the Lawrence Township deal of a few years ago where cronies of former Mayor Tom Schneider turned a $1,000 investment in the water company deal into millions, all on the backs of the residents of Lawrence. Some people should have gone to prision for that.

Unknown said...

The article downplayed the sports funding in order to create what appears to be a gap that can only be filled by higher spending, of course.

The Star article is part of a multi-year initiative by that rag to build support for (a) regional government, meaning regional taxation, and (b) regional rail.

The Star has also published three big editorials in support of the recent Wall Street bailout.

The Star is nothing more than a PR sheet for big government *and* big business. Read Ketzenberger's columns - unmitigated boosterism for corporate nabobs.

But last month, when the Star's own paperboy (man) Leif Wratten stole the identities of 400 people in Hendreicks COunty, not a word appears in this once-respectable paper.

Kat said...

I'm not even sure Leif is a real person. I dont think he is. I think it's a pseudonym.