Mayor Greg Ballard's attempt to raise property taxes $8 million a year by eliminating the homestead property tax credit in favor of more spending on sports facilities and public subsidies for the private development projects of his pay-to-play pals was rejected by the City-County Council tonight on a 11-18 vote. Despite all the arm-twisting of Republican councilors to stick with the tax-and-spend Republican mayor, not all were persuaded, including Councilors Bob Lutz, Aaron Freeman and Christine Scales, who voted with the Democratic-controlled council in rejecting Ballard's tax increase. It's good to see that there are actually Republicans left on the council who haven't broken their campaign pledges regarding property tax increases. That's more than can be said for Ballard and most of the Republican council members. Former City-County Councilor Jackie Nytes also has some explaining to do. The Indianapolis Public Library CEO was at tonight's council meeting lobbying in support of the elimination of the homestead property tax credit, which is paid for out of local income tax revenues. While the city gains from the elimination of the credit, its elimination actually cuts by several million dollars property tax revenues collected by schools and other local units of government, including the library. The library stood to lose at least a half million dollars annually if the measure passed. Councilor Monroe Gray admonished Nytes, a Democrat, for once again meddling in Republican politics.
UPDATE: Mayor Greg Ballard's office released the following statement in response to tonight's vote:
City-County Council leaders tonight failed to
back up their rhetoric about providing more funding to our police and fire
departments. I introduced this proposal a year ago. An independent, bi-partisan
study commission recommended this step which would have cost only a percentage
of homeowners less than a dollar per month and generated more than eight
million dollars to support public safety in our city.
Umm, Greg, aren't you the one who has failed to back up your rhetoric of making public safety job one? You made your choices. Handouts to professional sports teams and your pay-to-play pals in exchange for campaign contributions and overseas junkets have been your priorities as mayor. If you want more money for public safety, stop diverting our tax revenues for purposes other than what they were intended to be used when they were levied and collected.
Ballard has had several years to address the Security issues in this City.
Ballard now intends to blame the Councilors who voted against him and the tax payers for his failures. Ballard leaves out all the gifts he has provided for the Professional Sports Teams in this City. He also ignores all the direct and indirect subsidies the City has given away to the "Downtown District."
Freeman is no dummy. The tax increase would had hit most the people in Franklin Township the hardest. To think Ballard ran against tax increases.
Gary said it best: "Greg Ballard, aren't you the one who has failed to back up your rhetoric of making public safety job one? You made your choices. Handouts to professional sports teams and your pay-to-play pals in exchange for campaign contributions and overseas junkets have been your priorities as mayor. If you want more money for public safety, stop diverting our tax revenues for purposes other than what they were intended to be used when they were levied and collected."
Jackie wasn't there to support eliminating the Homestead. Libraries would lose $416,000 if we had gotten rid of that. There were 2 library issues up at the meeting. One library board member issue and PROPOSAL NO. 197, 2013 (General Ordinance)
DIGEST: approves the issuance of Library General Obligation Refunding Bonds for the
Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library in an amount not to exceed $36,000,000 to refund
current outstanding bonds and appropriates available proceeds and interest earnings to result in
an estimated 11% savings of current outstanding principal
Monroe Gray chastised her at the meeting because she had opined to people that the library could live with the Ballard proposal for eliminating the credit based on the assertion that it would allow certain monies that otherwise would not flow from TIFs to other units of local government to flow out to lessen the loss of the credit's impact on them. She testified at the hearings held on its elimination and essentially took the same position. Ballard's controller, Jason Dudich, sat on the library board which hired Jackie for her new job so, yes, she was working hand in hand with the Ballard administration to help win approval of the elimination of the credit. She was in bed with the Ballard administration on the water company deal and, lo and behold, she winds up as a member of the Board of Trustees of Citizens Energy.
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