Monday, August 30, 2010

What's The Truth Behind CIB's New Budget Numbers

The IBJ's Scott Olson had a story last week discussing a proposed $10 million increase in the CIB's proposed budget for 2011 over the current year's 2010 budget. That happens to match the amount of the first of three $10 million installments over the next years the CIB is giving to the Indiana Pacers because billionaire Herb Simon claims the franchise is losing so much money he can no longer afford to operate the team here withou additional public support. The CIB's President Ann Lathrop insists the $10 million in higher spending for next year is not the only reason the CIB plans to spend $73.1 million next year. A point I would make is that the first $10 million installment to the Pacers has already been paid out of the 2010 budget, and when the City-County Council approved the current year's budget for the CIB, it insisted there was no money in this year's budget to give to the Pacers. The CIB did, however, get approval from the City-County Council to raise the hotel tax in order to get an extra subsidy from state income and sales tax revenues from an expanded downtown sports area district, and it got approval to borrow $27 million from the state in three, $9 million annual installments. The CIB took elected to take that first installment late last year, even though Lathrop stated at the time the CIB didn't need the money. If we don't borrow it, she said, the CIB would lose the right to access those borrowed funds.

According to Olson's story, Lathrop attributed another $5 million in higher budget costs to improvements to Conseco Fieldhouse and other CIB facilities. "Instead, she pointed to $3.5 million in other improvements to the Fieldhouse, which is operated by the CIB, as well as $1.5 million earmarked for renovations and repairs to other buildings it owns," he writes. I'm sorry, Mr. Olson, but the CIB does not operate the Fieldhouse. Under the terms of a long-term lease, the Pacers are responsible for operating and maintenance expenses on the Fieldhouse because it gets to keep all of the revenues generated from it, including both game and non-game events; the CIB is not responsible for operating the Fieldhouse. The Pacers have also been allowed to keep parking revenues that are supposed to belong to the CIB. As part of the 3-year, $33.5 million give-away to the Pacers approved by the CIB earlier this summer, the CIB agreed to pick up $3.5 million in improvements to the Fieldhouse it otherwise was not legally obligated to cover. It seems the Pacers are dissatisfied with its current 10-year-old scoreboard above center court and wants to replace it with a brand new digital scoreboard.

Olson also notes the expanded convention center is expected to cost another $1 million in higher utility costs. Nonetheless, Lathrop tells Olson the CIB will balance its budget through "a combination of cuts and anticipated increases in revenue from hospitality and food and beverage taxes." Personnel costs are supposedly going to decline $3 million due to budget cuts. I've previously noted the CIB eked out most of its personnel cost reductions by significantly reducing the amount of temporary staffing it has been employing in the past. Of course, the only reason the CIB can really afford to spend an additional $10 million next year is because it is borrowing another $9 million from the state. How it plans to repay the full $27 million loan to the state is any body's guess at this point.

Perhaps the most important point Olson makes in his report is buried near the end of the story. "In addition, the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association is slated to receive $8 million from the CIB next year," Olson writes. "Unlike previous years, that the money will not come from CIB revenue but from downtown-development funds."The CIB typically funds about 70 percent of the ICVA’s budget." What are those "downtown-development funds"? And does that mean the CIB's budget is actually increasing by $18 million instead of the $10 million advertised by the CIB? Pat Andrews at Had Enough Indy asks that latter question. The Indianapolis Times blog builds on the point Pat makes with a discussion of how those funds come from a downtown tax increment financing (TIF) district. Yes, that would be property tax revenues. The blog explains the importance of this change in funding:

Is it coincidence that the $8 million in taxpayer money earmarked from the ICVA just about equals the amount of money for the coming year that the city has promised to pony up to bail out the Indiana Pacers?

If you remember, it was Mayor Greg Ballard who insisted that not a dime of taxpayer money would be used to bail out the Pacers and its billionaire owner.

While I have no doubt that the mayor will continue to insist that no taxpayer money is being used to help the Pacers, I think it would be safe to assume that the only reason the CIB is spending $8 million in your tax money on the ICVA is because of its obligations to the Pacers.

The CIB has funded the ICVA for years, but the the CIB has never had access to TIF funds, and has always funded the ICVA with a portion of its own revenues. There's only one reason that the CIB is now using TIF proceeds to fund the ICVA -- because it's short the $10 million it gave the Pacers.

The CIB, Mayor Ballard and administration officials will vehemently deny using property taxes to fund the Pacers, but the point here is that if those million of dollars hadn't gone to the Pacers, the CIB wouldn't need access to your tax dollars to fund the ICVA.

The mayor promised not to use tax dollars to bailout out the Pacers, so like any screwed sidewalk shill he's playing a shell game with your tax dollars.

The Indianapolis Times is absolutely correct in its assertion that the CIB's budget is nothing more than a shell game, just like it always has been. There is always more to its numbers than meets the eye. Yes, Greg Ballard lied again. The CIB didn't have the money in this year's budget to give to the Pacers so it tapped a property tax revenue-related fund to provide funding to the ICVA for the first time so it could afford to give away money to the Pacers, and it still had to borrow more funds from the state even with those additional property tax revenues. Our property tax dollars are being used to give money to billionaire Herb Simons' Indiana Pacers and support the CIB notwithstanding Ballard's assertions to the contrary. That's a fact you won't read in the mainstream news media reports.

UPDATE: Don't miss this story if you're a property taxpayer. It looks like the library board and IndyGo may file appeals to allow them to hike property tax levies next year to meet budget shortfalls. Although the boards are comprised of persons appointed by the mayor and the council, watch for politicians to distance themselves from the actions of those boards if property tax increases do occur.

UPDATE II: The rubber stamp members of the CIB approved the budget without asking any serious questions. Of course this is how it goes. They are part of the corrupt organized crime ring that runs this town, and they're all making money at your expense and laughing all the way to the bank. And to David Shane, you have proven yourself to be a totally worthless member of the CIB. I should have known better than to expect more from you.

UPDATE III: Here's some more details on the CIB's proposed budget. The CIB is passing out grant money to the Arts Council and the Indiana Sports Corporation. The Arts Council will get $300,000, while the ISC will get $150,000. The grant to Black Expo is being restored, notwithstanding the harmful economic impact this organization's summer celebration is increasingly having on downtown businesses. There is also a $150,000 cultural tourism matching grant in the budget. The CIB will spend $100,000 more on the Colts game day expenses next year. The CIB plans to spend $800,000 to pave that gravel parking lot at the site of the former Market Square Arena it has had a variance to operate for a number of years. No sinking fund is being established to repay the state loan. The CIB is relying heavily on the inter-local agreement for downtown development dollars (TIF revenues) as a permanent way of funding the ICVA as noted in the story above. It's budgeting at its worst when you consider how much other vital city budgets are being cut to deal with an anticipated revenue shortfall next year. We're going to wind up spending nearly 10% of what we spend on all other city services on the CIB's budget. The CIB's budget in 2011 will actually be 25% higher than it was in 2009, jumping from $84.7 million to $104.4 million. Absolutely incredible.


Jon said...

Isn't the use of TIF funds inappropriate? By that I mean the language that establishes the CIB does not include any discussion of property taxes as a revenue stream for the CIB. In fact it discusses bonds; capital improvement bond fund, revenue bonds and excise taxes but no where does it discuss the use of property tax dollars.

dcrutch said...

We've decided that professional sports are more important than graduation rates, open libraries, and a respected police department. It's about that simple.

How much smoke and mirrors has to happen before we privatize stadium management? We're to routinely hand this over to an entity that will support the Mayor and associated henchmen? What if we were to divide the responsibilities of maintaining our stadiums among competitive vendors, or pick a single private vendor with at least as good a record of facility management as political cronyism?

We're still supposed to buy the con that professional sports are a net enhancement to a medium market? With an endless stadium replacement loop, fluctuating support, and fiscal blasphemy like the Colts keeping non-football concession revenue, we're still supposed to buy that line?

How bad do things have to get? You tell me. Evidently worse than 10% unemployment, half the IPS children graduating, a library board deciding where to reduce hours, and inadequately trained and supervised policemen.

M Theory said...

I'm reaching the boiling point.


Greg Ballard is going to be thoroughly humiliated and trashed when he's up for re-election.

He doesn't have a snow balls chance in HELL of winning. He created the Hell he now lives in (by the way), with every deceitful game he's played with our money.

Had he only set up a kitchen cabinet with the activists that got him elected, we would not be here now.

Instead, our mayor that we worked day and night for months to get elected to office, turned his back on us, The People, in favor of his new rich friends, Barnes & Thornburg, and their interests over ours.

He scorns the people who fought for him.

Marycatherine Barton said...

"corrupt organizer crime ring that runs town" -- you have got that right, dear Gary, and thank you for all the work you are doing, to try to expose its members, its nefarious activities, and those that cover up for them.

dcrutch said...

Arts Council grants, Cultural tourism grants, paving parking lots grants- from the same CIB that "manages" stadiums? While we're simultaneously lacking funding for public safety, education, and infrastructure repair? Between this and the water deal, what city-county entity DOESN'T have the ability to take our tax dollars and spend it on ANYTHING?

The Library (home of the brilliant idea to "save money" by not properly supervising downtown expansion) & IndyGo will be RAISING property taxes?

Earth to the CIB, Library & IndyGo: Ever hear of priorities? Ever hear of tax caps? Ask Pat Bauer- even he has heard of them. Have you heard that GM is closing a plant downtown because the economy is still bad?

Sports are an enjoyable luxury when you can afford it. Who doesn't appreciate a well-paved parking lot instead of a bunch of potholes? I like libraries & the arts more than the average person. But, if the the real basics aren't even being taken care of- don't ask for more money we don't have!