Monday, March 17, 2014

Indianapolis City-County Council Set To Vote On More Than $45 Million Theft Of Public Assets To Finance Privately-Owned Luxury High-Rise

If you wonder why our city-county government lacks funds to pay for basic services, you need look no further than the vote the Indianapolis City-County Council intends to take tonight that will force Indianapolis taxpayers to finance more than 50% of the constructions costs for a high-rise luxury apartment building proposed by Flaherty & Collins at the former site of Market Square Arena. Under the plan, the City would not only borrow up to $23 million to finance the $81 million construction cost of the luxury high-rise building, but it would also donate some of the most valuable land in downtown Indianapolis to the developer for free. The land alone is worth $6 to $10 million, depending on who you ask. When interest costs are added to the $23 million bonds that will be repaid over 25 years, the total contribution by taxpayers to the project could top $45 million.

Objective reporting by the local news media on Proposal No. 366 has been completely absent. Instead, the public has been treated to non-stop puff pieces that read more like press releases touting the proposed luxury apartment building. When the developer and the city's economic development chief were asked by a council member why the project required such a large public "investment," the answer was that construction costs for a high-rise apartment building were prohibitive given that top market lease rates for luxury apartments in Indianapolis were far below rental rates in other major cities like Chicago. Thus, this is offered as the basis for providing more than 50% of the costs of initial construction costs for a residential building where only the most wealthy can afford to live.

It is very insulting to our intelligence to describe the public financing of this private development as an "investment." An investment implies some return to the taxpayers who are footing the bill for the project. To the contrary, the greedy, pay-to-play developer will own 100% of the new development. The only return promised to taxpayers are future property taxes that will be paid on the development, which any property owner is supposed to be obligated to pay on real estate and improvements. Yet the incremental tax revenues collected by the downtown TIF district will be pledged to repay the hefty debt obligation.

Instead of calling it tax increment finance it should be called taxpayer investments in fraud, which is essentially what it is. TIF districts have become nothing more than a criminal racket comprised of various payoff, kickback and bribe schemes to financially reward private developers and their professional consultants and contractors who are stuffing money in the politicians' pockets. You should contact your city council member and ask him or her to vote no. Council leaders are telling the press they already have the votes to pass the proposal. Watch these same council members who support this public theft of assets have the audacity to tell you it's your fault there isn't enough money to hire police officers, maintain our parks or fix our roads and sidewalks because you are taxed too little. If you want better public transit, then they'll tell you that you have to pay an additional income tax on top of the property taxes you are already paying to support public transit. The pay-to-play crowd asks and receives; the taxpayers beg and receive nothing more than a higher tax bill.


Anonymous said...

good luck next legislative session trying to pin a commuter tax on people who work in Marion county but live in the burbs. Giveaways like this virtually write the script for how to defeat the tax. "Oh Indianapolis wants to tax commuters because they don't have any money. What about the F&C highrise, what about the broad ripple parking garage and browning deals, what about the mass avenue cluster, what about the $10m/year to the Pacers, where did the parking meter money go, where did the water compnay money go, etc..." You can't plead poverty after you've spent all of your money like a drunken sailor in port.

Anonymous said...

Tax and appears to be the credo of the current administration.

Unfortunately after spending millions of our tax dollars on waste: bike lanes, cricket field, damage to wells of homeowners near cricket field, Regional Operations Center (still not occupied), and the desire to build a new Criminal Justice Center....but violent crime is scaring all of us. We have fewer police than modern history... -Where are the priorities?