The digest of Prop 131 reads as follows:
authorizes the transfer of the waterworks and the sewage works of the City of Indianapolis to Citizens Energy Group
The Memorandum of Understanding is incorporated into Prop 131. Also of interest are a few documents posted at www.indy.gov/utilities The list of links includes Q&A of Council questions, which has a lot of information in it.
The digest of Prop 132 reads:
authorizes the issuance and sale of revenue bonds to procure funds to be applied to the costs of the construction, renovation, rehabilitation and installation of improvements to the public ways, including roads, streets, alleys, trails, sidewalks and other public facilities, appropriating the proceeds derived from the sale of such bonds, modifying the amount of payments in lieu of taxes payable by the sanitary district
I suggest we get a lot of folks reading this one. It seems to be authorizing the issuance of not only $189 m in bonds, but $189 m in bond anticipation warrants, so that the City doesn't have to wait for the bonds to issue. I assume this is because Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) will secure the bonds and we can't be sure of the PILOT money until the IURC okays the sale of the water and sewer utilities. It also seems to be saying that $9 m in sewer utility PILOT money that currently goes to fund public safety will go to repay these bonds instead -- but somebody correct me if I have that wrong. This particular Proposal is a tougher slog to read through than usual. So, post here what you think it means.
Star reporter, Francesca Jarosz has a very good article in today's paper regarding the issues revolving around the proposed sale. For the life of me, I can't find it on the IndyStar website, so maybe its one of those paper edition only stories. I'll look at the Star site in another couple of days and see if it suddenly appears and post a link then. [edited on 4-27-10 to add link to IndyStar article: click here]
There are a couple of important issues that haven't been locked down, in my view, that really need to be. In no particular order:
1) For what will any proceeds from the sale be spent? The original intention was for streets and sidewalks. Now, I have heard included, streets, sidewalks, alleys, economic development, community gardens, downtown streetscapes for the 2012 superbowl, trails, 'other public facilities', and stormwater drainage. The longer the list, the less I am personally interested in supporting the sale.
2) How will the funds be dedicated so that they are spent on just those things promised? As an example of what can happen when funds are not properly dedicated, we have the annual discussion of why the community was promised $5 m in crime prevention grants for a portion of the income tax increases implemented by former Mayor Peterson and the Democratically held Council. After the Mayor's office and the Council switched control to the Republican party, they declined to spend that money as promised. What Councillors Vaughn and Hunter have been saying in response to questions is that the proposal was not written on the proper Council form and thus was never guaranteed to be spent as promised. Well, what assurance does the community have that these monies will be spent as promised? Without dedication of the funds, I will hesitate to support the sale.
3) How can the City stop the sale of the water company and sewer utility by Citizens Energy in the future? Alternatively - can the City take them back?
4) There needs to be a public process created for local input into water and sewer utility matters by the community. Citizens Energy may be open and interested in such input, but it is not mandatory. The IURC oversight provides little comfort in this arena, as they are viewed as too cozy with the utilities that they regulate.
5) This sale basically finances a 4 year blitz of projects with water and sewer rate increases - and then the money is all gone but the rate increases remain. In addition, the taxpayers of Indianapolis lose control of the most valuable of all natural resources, water. There must be assurances, perhaps in the form of clawback authority by the City, that the water cannot be sold outside of Marion County, no matter how high a price is offered by other municipalities or states in the future.
Those are my thoughts. There has already been much discussion, so make sure you look over exactly what the Council will be voting on - because if it isn't in writing, it does not count.