Thursday, July 30, 2015

Star Wants You To Believe City's Credit Rating Is In Jeopardy If Public Safety Tax Increase Revenues Are Used As Intended

Indianapolis residents began paying 10% more in local income taxes in January thanks to a tax increase enacted by the City-County Council and signed into law by Mayor Greg Ballard last year. As Advance Indiana warned you at the time, Mayor Ballard had no intention of using the money for public safety just like he failed to use the money raised from the 65% increase in the local income tax enacted the year prior to him becoming mayor that was supposed to allow IMPD to hired hundreds of more police officers. What we learned well into Ballard's second term is that there were actually fewer, not more police officers patrolling the streets last year than the year Ballard took office.

Throughout Ballard's two terms in office, hundreds of millions of property tax dollars have been diverted into the downtown TIF "slush fund," which Mayor Ballard has used for real estate development projects awarded to his political cronies. Ballard and the council agreed to divert about $6.8 million from the City's fiscal stability fund last year to shore up public safety spending. This is a "rainy day" day fund of sorts the City has created to cover spending when revenues are tight. Someone set a target balance of $80 million for that fund, which is just that. This artificial number has been conflated by Ballard's folks as a balance that must be maintained in that specific fund at all times to avoid a lowering of the City's bond rating. In actuality, bond rating agencies look at all city sources, not just that one fund balance, in assessing the City's credit worthiness.

When the Mayor and the Council transferred $6.8 million out of the fiscal stability fund, it could have just as easily taken the money from the downtown TIF slush fund, which Ballard taps as a matter of convenience whenever he pleases. Missing from a story by the Indianapolis Star's Brian Eason discussing the current debate between the Mayor's office and the council over the repayment of that $6.8 million to the fiscal stability fund is the $6 million Mayor Ballard unilaterally and illegally removed from the City's parking meter fund to pay for the electric charging stations for the privately-run Blue Indy car sharing service after he decided to award an illegal monopoly business enterprise to the French company that has been permitted to appropriate hundreds of the City's most valuable parking spaces, a move that will result in an untold loss of city revenues for years to come. The Indianapolis Star is totally down with all the laws Ballard broke to push forward the Blue Indy initiative because it thinks the City having an electric car sharing service only visitors to the city are likely to use is really cool.

The debate really centers around Ballard's agitation with the council in overriding a veto he made earlier this year to appropriate more money to purchase new police cars, equipment and other police needs. Mayor Ballard unilaterally decided to repay the entire amount of the money to the fiscal stability fund this year after that council override, effectively making it impossible to spend the money the council appropriated for IMPD. In Mayor Ballard's view, he's a dictator and the council only serves an advisory role. If he doesn't like what the council enacts into law, he can simply do what he damn well pleases, the law be damned. Unfortunately, the Indianapolis Star always sides with the mayor in these debates because it is for all intents and purposes a co-conspirator, aiding and abetting the corrupt mayor in the theft of our public assets for the benefit of his political cronies. So take whatever you read about Ballard's contentions in Eason's story that the city's credit rating is at risk because of the council's actions.


Anonymous said...

Bravo, bravo, bravo, Gary! Another splendid analysis. I am an employed Marion County taxpayer who has had it up to HERE with these damned tax increases our feckless and useless City County Council (the Honorable Councilor Christine Scales excepted) and their idiot mayor foist upon us. The corrupt Republican Mayor Greg Ballard could not get his corrupt agenda through without the close work and assistance of our generally pathetic City Council under asleep-at-the-wheel Democrat Maggie Lewis. How and why the witless Kyle Walker thinks we Marion County Republicans will elect Chuck Brewer for a third Greg Ballard term is something for psychiatric professionals to assess.

We must not forget that the City County Council Democrats are often in goose step with Kyle Walker's corrupt Republican mayor. The lockstep Democrats are just as guilty sucking our hard earned money from our depleted pockets as is Greg Ballard... they simply steal our money so they can give it to someone else and I am damned tired of them all.

So, to the MCRCC/Marion County GOP... I will not vote for Joe Hogsett (whom I believe is being given the mayor's chair anyway) but you can be completely guaranteed that this Republican blog commenter will never ever vote for Chuck Brewer!

Anonymous said...

"Where's the harm? Bond rating firms are thought to be paid for describing realities. They would be no good to us if they didn't downgrade, so to speak, our bond rating. It, the downgrade, tells us that Indianapolis is fiscally irresponsible. It is also a benefit to us in that by raising the cost of borrowed bucks, in a rational world, less would be borrowed. The cost benefit ratio gets much steeper and so if we would elect a rational mayor he'd borrow much less. End the borrowing would be a good policy-the former stupid mayor was borrowing money to meet operating "needs" instead of being a competent manager." Ogden asks why any fiscally conservative would vote for the Republican running for Mayor. Good question. There was a book once that talked about exchanging new lies for old ones. A cynic might think the upcoming choice is to exchange old crooks for new ones.

Anonymous said...

So essentially what we have here is a group that won't be voting for anyone for Mayor, and didn't vote for anyone in the Republican primary for Mayor, and doesn't seem to find anyone who wants to run for Mayor that they'd deem acceptable. As far as I can read, there's only one acceptable person on the Council, but, they being seemingly unacceptable to Council members of either party, apparently isn't particularly effective. All combined, those are rough positions because you either need to find, and get elected, a considerable bunch of councilors, and/or a Mayoral candidate for an election that's a bit over four years away. I'm not attempting to stake out a position there, because, generally, Councilors tend not to be collectively effective, and nothing much seems to change from one Mayor to the next. Just one more thing that makes one grateful for beer.

Anonymous said...

I am Anon 7:55; I voted in the most recent Primary and utilized a Republican ballot.

Paul Ogden just penned on his blog "After Supporting Wasteful and Likely Illegal Blue Indy Deal, Why Should Indy Conservatives Vote for Brewer for Mayor?" and I enjoyed the comment by "Pete Boggs" who said...

"Locally, the base is semi-permanently decoupled from the establishment apparatus; which won't change anytime soon. The uninspired base will throw up, not show up; understanding as adults, that choices between "evils" aren't of their making..." AMEN, Brother! AMEN!!

Josh said...

There are two huge scams run nationwide, or even worldwide, by govs on their respective citizens. These two are education and law enforcement. Scams in the sense of overpaid/overpriced "service" to include their pensions all funded by tax dollars. Every year these two union-controlled industries are paraded before the citizen as needing ever increased financing or doom is sure to follow. And this on top of tye cafr scams.

Only a ten percent tax increase this year? Why not install a ten percent increase every year? That should fix everything!

Anonymous said...

Honestly who cares ? AA credit rating is still considered very high quality and will not impact interest rates in terms of bond issuance due to the low interest rate environment right now.

Credit ratings (like Indiana's AAA) is pretty short-sighted and makes for good political sound bites nothing more. In theory, a higher credit rating leads to lower interest rates, which means lower Government spending, which means lower taxes.

The reality is that the Government will still waste money in one way or another (like hiring an out of state public relationships firm for a the RFRA debacle), Mike Pence's CECI agency to fight Glenda Ritz, etc....

Last I checked, a credit rating can't be used to buy groceries, tax money that is taken can be though.