Cuts at the financially-strapped Capital Improvement Board may have come to an end for now.
The head of the group that oversees the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium said major cost-cutting has put their budget back in the black.
"We got the emergency loan from the state to take care of our potential one time deficit which would've essentially put us under," said CIB President Bob Grand.
That loan is for $27 million over three years. But, Grand said the CIB may not take this year's scheduled $9 million payment.
"Which we're not sure quite frankly that we're going to need at this point given the reduction in costs and all the things that we've achieved in operational savings," Grand said.
Grand said about a dozen layoffs and other reductions have saved about $12 million. The CIB's operating budget is now $62 million.
The logical question I would have to ask Grand is, "So, you don't need the loan, but you said the CIB would have gone under without it. How does that make sense?" But, of course, Don Welsh of the ICVA is still on the hunt for his $3 - $5 million increase over the roughly $9 million they already get from he CIB. Corbin's report continues:
But, the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association, which itself cut eight jobs, said it desperately needs at least 5 million dollars of that budget to keep other cities from stealing away two key conventions.
"We're in ongoing negotiations with Fire Department Instructors Conference and Dealer Expo, two of our largest, top five conventions that we bring into Indianapolis annually," said Bill Benner of the ICVA.
With both contracts up by 2012, the city is speeding up work on the new Convention Center.
Then Corbin pulls out the old malarkey numbers that really should be vetted by somebody besides Welsh, whose $400,000 salary plus benefits does not qualify him as an independent expert on the subject. Here's what Corbin reports:
So why should you care whether or not the city is able to lure conventions?
Well, leaders say tourism accounts for $800 million a year and if the city didn't have that money property taxes would go up $100 a year per household.
Leaders say it's the age old issue: cut costs or raise taxes.
"I'd be willing to pay more if it's for incentives for conventions because that'll help overall I think," said Indianapolis resident Michael Warshauer.
"A lot of my friends are out of work. So, I don't think that would be an alternative. I think there are other places the city can look to cut," said Carol French.
I'd like to know what cuts Ms. French would have made to keep Mr. Welsh in high cotton. But back to Corbin's report:
Grand said the CIB is deferring decision on the loan until December 31.
They're now working with the city-county council on a long range financial plan that would include other localities. A new committee will be looking into that option within the next few weeks.
So, while the taxpayers get a small boost in that the CIB may actually say "thanks but no thanks" to at least the first $9 million loan from the State, the push for more and more money continues.