The Airport and H&H budgets will enjoy little to no drama tonight. This is not the case with the other three.
Will Higgins reports in this morning's Indy Star, that there is a deal to replace all of IndyGo's and much of the Library's proposed shortfall appeal with money set aside when the United TIF was created.
What's a shortfall appeal? Its easiest to explain by starting with how a tax rate is determined. You determine a tax rate by dividing the amount of property tax requested in a budget, by the assessed value of all property that will be used to pay that property tax. The taxing unit, whether it be a school, a library, or the City, are bound by the property tax rate. If somebody doesn't pay their taxes, too bad. If the property owners appeal their individual assessed value, and win, then the total assessed value drops. This, too, reduces the property tax revenue that the taxing unit gets -- unless it files for a property tax shortfall appeal. If granted, the next year's tax bills will show an additional line for those properties that have not already hit the tax caps - raising those property tax bills.
In the case of IndyGo and the Library, a shortfall appeal cannot be submitted to the State Department of Local Government Finance without the prior approval of the Council. If granted, the additional tax would be applied to next year's tax bill -- just in time for the reelection campaigns for Mayor and City-County Council. And, none of those folks want to HAVE to be explaining how its REALLY NOT a tax increase.
This alone would be incentive enough for the 'deal' that seems to have been struck by the Council leadership. Higgins reports,
A bipartisan group of council leaders on Monday agreed to recommend adding $1 million to the library's 2011 budget, partially offsetting the library's property tax shortfall appeal request for $1.8 million.
The group's plan also would provide IndyGo with the $1.5 million it initially sought in its shortfall appeal.
The money would come from a fund created in the 1990s to service debt from a tax-increment financing district that helped finance the former United Airlines maintenance hub at Indianapolis International Airport.
Under the proposed deal, the funding source would be recurring for the library but a one-time-only fix for the bus service.
This deal would not increase the proposed budget for either IndyGo nor the Library - and actually would decrease the Library budget by $800,000.
The drama with the CIB is still bubbling. I think we can be sure that the deal struck on the IndyGo and Library shortfall appeals will be played, behind the scenes of course, as a sufficient trade to allow the $10 million gift to the Pacers in the CIB budget. The question is, who will bite? Council President, Ryan Vaughn, has been quoted in previous Star reports by Jon Murray, as tying the two issues together. He quotes Vaughn as saying,
Members of both parties say they are reluctant to approve the CIB's budget. Council President Ryan Vaughn, a Republican, says it's a tough call when the library and bus systems' long-term fiscal health is in question.
"I think people are open to passing it as long as we are finding solutions to the library situation," Vaughn said in an interview. "We want to work hard to send the right message to the public."
We shall see what happens tonight. Will the Councillors on the committee think that not cutting the proposed IndyGo budget and cutting the proposed Library budget by only $800,000, is sufficient trade for $10 million to the Pacers in the CIB budget. If they do, then Councillor Vaughn is correct - if that deal is struck, the Councillors WILL BE FORCED to "work hard to send the right message to the public." I say that because I don't think the public is that dumb or ill-informed.
Councillors serving on the Municipal Corporations committee are: Republicans, Barb Malone (Chair), Jeff Cardwell, Bob Lutz, and Angel Rivera -- and -- Democrats, Maggie Lewis, Dane Mahern, and Jackie Nytes. The meeting begins at 5:30 in room 260 of the City-County Building.