Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Indy Deserves Better

Last night I attended the City-County Council Rules committee for the budget presentation portion. I thought I'd stay to hear the latest information regarding the proposed parking meter deal. Bad idea. Deputy Mayor Michael Huber and Bond Bank Executive Director Deron Kintner were spinning so hard, its a wonder they didn't drill a hole in the floor and fall through.

Let me back up a bit, run through some of the more frustrating spins, then offer some common sense.

You can view this performance for yourself by visiting the Channel 16 archives for the Rules Committee (click here) and clicking on the "Video" link for Sep 28, 2010. They have a quick link to that portion - Prop 229. Urbanophile blogger, Aaron Renn, was up first, at time stamp 20:00. Huber and Kintner first appear at time stamp 58:00.

The proposed 50 year lease of our parking meters to ACS (prop 229; proposed lease agreement) calls for an investment by ACS to update the meters, a $35 million up front payment to the City, and shared revenue stream for the 50 years. The cost of replacing some, if not all, of the current meters with new technology has been estimated at $8-10 million. The IBJ estimates that the City would receive $400 million over the course of the lease, but ACS would collect as much as $1.2 billion (yes billion). Simple math translates that to $8 million per year to the city and up to $24 million a year to ACS. The City would double parking rates immediately, and tie future increases to the cost of living. In addition, the City intends to increase the number of meters immediately by 100-130.

Renn made his points clearly, with an easy to follow flow of logic. There was a quality back and forth with the Councillors. All was well for the viewing public who hoped to gather concrete information with which to assess the proposed plan.

Huber's presentation was difficult in so many aspects. I got the impression that he had certain phrases, certain 'winning' points, toward which he felt compelled to steer his statements. Such phrases and 'winning' points would include "be flexible and adapt to change", never agree that there is a 'penalty' of any kind in the agreement, "we haven't raised parking rates in 35 years", "many of our parking meters are occupied by folks from out of town", "we become less reliant on property taxes", the only alternative to the ACS deal is nothing at all, and only compare the revenue stream from the ACS deal to what we currently get. All of these are debatable points, to say the least. But, Huber seemed drawn to them as his exclusive library for last night's discussion.

The 'penalty' point got quite a bit of time, so let's follow that one in a bit of depth. In his amazing blog entry on this proposed deal ("Indy's 'Son of Chicago' Parking Meter Lease to Be a Disaster for City"), Renn made this point:

7. The vendor automatically gets the right to any new meters, but the city has to pay to remove any meters. In the Chicago deal, the city has to negotiate with the existing vendor for new meters outside the existing concession area, but is free to take its business elsewhere if the vendor won’t match what a competitor would offer. In Indy, any new meters are automatically enrolled in the new deal. (Section 7.7) I didn’t see where this was limited to the four specified zones, so it might in fact apply to any meter in the city.

However, if the city removes a meter, they have to pay a meter removal fee. In the first year, this is $15,400 per meter in Zone 1. I didn’t see any provision for offsetting adds and removes, meaning if the city adds three meters and removes one, the vendor gets the three new ones automatically and the city is still on the hook to pay for the one they removed. What’s more, the city is also on the hook for any lost parking ticket revenue the vendor would have gotten off that space too.

Looking at schedule 4,"Methodology for Calculating Certain Concessionaire Compensation" (page 132 of the pdf), one finds a complex looking formula for calculating the compensation due ACS if a parking meter is permanently removed. But it boils down to adding the expected future revenue from the meter over the remainder of the lease to the expected future revenue from parking tickets at that meter over the remainder of the lease. The cost of that meter and its installation by ACS is not included in the calculation. The fraction of the $35 million up front fee to be paid by ACS to the City which can be attributed to that meter, is not included in the calculation. It is all based upon future revenues expected for that meter. This is what Councillor Joanne Sanders and others are calling a 'penalty' for the removal. This is money that the City would owe to ACS to compensate them for the removal of the meter.

But, Huber could not say that out loud. Instead he claimed over and over that it wasn't a penalty. According to Huber, the compensation is reimbursing ACS for the purchase and installation of that meter -- besides, the city would not hand ACS a check, they would deduct it from the City's portion of the revenue -- therefore it is not a penalty. What gibberish. The compensation formula is NOT derived from reimbursement for funds already spent. And despite the tortured logic, it is still a loss to the City. Then he takes things further and says we would be giving up that revenue anyway, if the City didn't do the deal with ACS, covered the costs itself, and then pulled a meter off the streets. NO. There is a difference between not getting future revenue, and paying somebody else the amount of that future revenue. And if Michael Huber really doesn't know that, then maybe he shouldn't be the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development.

Perhaps worse, was the handling of an alternative approach to this deal with ACS. The only alternatives offered were to do nothing at all, or to float a bond to cover the upgrade and installation of the meters. Bond Bank Executive Director, Deron Kintner, took the bonding issue on. He mentioned a number of reasons why this would not be a good idea. He said that the city now employs 6 people to tend the meters, but we'd have to increase that number 10 fold if we undertook the meter expansion and upgrade ourselves.

But what really got me were the numbers he popped on the screen to demonstrate that the City would take in more money through the ACS deal than if the City made all the improvements itself. (see slide 8 of the presentation).

The cost of the meters is $8-10 million to ACS, but the City would, for reasons inconceivable to me, have to float a bond for $25 million. Kintner compared this figure with the proposed $35 million up front fee.

Then he looked at the net present value of the ongoing cash flow. He never described what was considered in deriving that figure. The number is too low to account for a full 50 years of revenues to the city, unless a high rate inflation were assumed. He said that the net present value of the cash flow in the ACS agreement is $32 million, but only $29.8 million if the City goes it alone.

But, lets look at the revenue stream itself. The IBJ estimates that the deal could give the City as much as $400 million over 50 years. That comes to $8 million a year. Their estimate of up to $1.2 billion in revenue to ACS is $24 million a year. If you add those two numbers, you come up with $32 million a year, on average, for the entire cash flow. But, ACS is keeping the lion's share of that money.

If instead, all the money came to the City, even after you subtract $3 million a year for the bond payment and $4 million a year for operations, the City would net $25 million per year, or $1.25 billion over the 50 years. Subtract a $10 million technology upgrade every 10 years, doubled if you floated 10 year bonds to be paid back with interest, the City would still net $1.1 billion over the 50 years. That is equivalent to $22 million per year. Again, better than the average $8 million per year the City would get through the ACS deal.

And while Kintner explains on his slide that it does not include the benefit of ACS moving 200 jobs to Indy, he ignores the fact that just moments before, he estimated the City would generate 600 jobs if it bonded the cost of meter upgrades and ran the system itself.

All of this adds up to a dizzying amount of spin - just to get this deal signed. Indy deserves better than what it got last night from Huber and Kintner.

As for the meter issue itself. Why doesn't the Council review and deny the MDC-CIB interlocal agreement that will send $8 million of property tax revenues from the consolidated downtown TIF to the Pacers, and make it clear to the Mayor and the MDC that it would support $8 million from that TIF being spent on parking meter upgrades. They could then double the parking fees, provide for annual increases to the fees based on the cost of living, and add the 100-130 additional meters contemplated with the ACS deal. The City would then stand to pull in an average of $32 million a year in revenue that it does not have to share with ACS. It can then afford the added $4 million a year in operating costs for a net of $28 million a year on average, for a total of $1.4 billion over 50 years. This is the most flexible and adaptable approach to the issue of how to generate more money from the parking meters. Not the ACS deal.

Monday, September 27, 2010

City-County Budget Review - What's Up This Week

City-County Council committees will review several important budgets this week.

Two committees meet tonight at 5:30. The Metropolitan Development committee will meet in room 260 to discus the budget for the Department of Code Enforcement.

In room 118, a far smaller room, will be the meeting place of the Municipal Corporations committee that will consider the budgets for the Library, IndyGo, and the Airport. A few days ago, Jobs for Justice posted a comment on this blog that said they were organizing folks to attend the Library budget hearing. Hopefully Councillor Malone will accommodate all members of the public who do attend the meeting. The original schedule for this committee was to hear the budget for Health & Hospitals tonight and the Airport budget on Oct 11, along with the CIB budget. I haven't heard any reason why they were switched.

Two committees also meet tomorrow night. Getting the larger room, 260, is the Rules committee. The budgets for the Civil Taxing Units will be discussed. All action of the Council regarding these budgets for Townships, excluded Cities, etc., are non-binding, but required by state law. This was the budget hearing that saw the largest number of public commenters last year. Along with the budget is the continuing hearings for the sale of the parking meters to ACS, Prop 229. The agenda clearly says "Informational purposes only. Final action is not expected at this time." Prop 227 is also on this agenda, and the digest says "establishes an investigative committee to investigate the City of Indianapolis' public safety leaders' response to matters related to the Bisard incident on August 6, 2010 and in the weeks following". Two other smaller matters are also on tomorrow night's Rules committee agenda.

The Admin & Finance committee will take room 118 tomorrow night at 5:30 pm, to review the budgets for the Information Services Agency, Regional Health & Mental Health Centers, and the Marion County Cooperative Extension Service.

The Public Safety committee was going to review the IMPD and IFD budgets on Wednesday night. Instead, that has been moved to October 8, according to an announcement by chairman Ben Hunter. The committee has a full agenda, nonetheless. Beginning at 5:30 pm, Prop 224 will be discussed. It would change the way Drug Free Marion County gets approval to spend its money. Prop 254 considers the consolidation of the Lawrence Fire Department with IFD. Prop 255 would impose some new 'integrity' reforms on IMPD. Prop 256 would establish a bipartisan committee to "investigate the internal procedures of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, to hold public hearings and take public input, to seek input from officers, and to report to the mayor findings and recommendations about improvements". Two other proposals are also on the agenda.

On Thursday, at 5:30 pm in room 260, the Public Works committee will review the DPW budget. Seven small proposals will also be considered.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

MDC-CIB Deal Requires Council Approval

Mayor Greg Ballard recently struck a dirty little deal whereby property tax dollars will be funneled to the Pacers organization.

This deal, you will recall, is in the form of an Interlocal Agreement between the Metropolitan Development Commission and the Capital Improvement Board (see "DMD Budget Hearing - Say What?" and "MDC/CIB Interlocal Agreement"). The MDC is in charge of property tax revenue derived from a variety of TIF (Tax Increment Finance) districts, including the 'Consolidated Downtown TIF District'. It was mentioned at a recent MDC pre-meeting, that this district takes in about $43 million a year in property tax revenues, and the $30 of that is required for the repayment of bonds and other debt tied to that TIF district.

So, Mayor Ballard decided that this TIF district could serve as his personal Pacers piggy bank. He ordered the MDC to send $8 million a year of that $43 million, almost one-fifth of all revenue and nearly two-thirds of all excess revenue, to the CIB so that they could send it on to the Pacers.

The only problem with that plan is that state law requires Council approval of any Interlocal Agreement of the MDC and any Interlocal Agreement of the CIB.

IC 36-1-7 covers all types of Interlocal Agreements. Only Agreements between two 'economic development entities' can avoid review and approval. IC 36-1-7-15 (e) says:
An agreement under this section does not have to comply with section 3(a)(5) or 4 of this chapter.

Section 4 is the part that determines who does the review and approval, but we will get to that in a minute. IC 36-1-7 also list 5 kinds of organizations that qualify as 'economic development entities'. The MDC is on that list. The airport authority is even on that list. But, sadly for Mayor Ballard, the CIB is not on that list.

Thus, the MDC/CIB Interlocal Agreement must be reviewed and approved according to section 4. Here is section 4 in its entirety:
IC 36-1-7-4
Agreements; when attorney general's approval required
Sec. 4. (a) If an agreement under section 3 of this chapter:
(1) involves as parties:
(A) only Indiana political subdivisions; or
(B) an Indiana political subdivision and:
(i) a public instrumentality; or
(ii) a public corporate body;
created by state law;
(2) is approved by the fiscal body of each party that is an Indiana political subdivision either before or after the agreement is entered into by the executive of the party;
(3) delegates to the treasurer or disbursing officer of one (1) of the parties that is an Indiana political subdivision the duty to receive, disburse, and account for all monies of the joint undertaking;then the approval of the attorney general is not required.
(b) If subsection (a) does not apply, an agreement under section 3 of this chapter must be submitted to the attorney general for the attorney general's approval. The attorney general shall approve the agreement unless the attorney general finds that it does not comply with the statutes, in which case the attorney general shall detail in writing for the parties the specific respects in which the agreement does not comply. If the attorney general fails to disapprove the agreement within sixty (60) days after it is submitted to the attorney general, it is considered approved.

The bottom line is, if an Interlocal Agreement meets certain criteria, then it can avoid being submitted to the state Attorney General for review and approval. But, that criteria includes being "approved by the fiscal body of each party that is an Indiana political subdivision either before or after the agreement is entered into by the executive of the party". The fiscal body of the MDC is the City-County Council. The fiscal body of the CIB is the City-County Council.

Sorry Mayor Ballard, but your plan to avoid Council review is not going to work.

State law requires this review and I dare say that it is to protect the taxpayers from shenanigans just like this.

But, I'm not finished yet. It is not just the Mayor who is hip deep in this dirty little deal.

Where is the outrage from Council President Ryan Vaughn? Where are his demands that state law be followed to protect the interests of the taxpayers?

Sure, the Councillors who are in favor of funnelling more money to the Pacers will not speak up and demand the review and approval required by state law - because they don't want to vote 'aye' in public. But, what of the rest of the Councillors? What does it take for them to speak up and stand up?

Indianapolis residents and taxpayers deserve that this dirty little deal be reviewed by the Council, as required by law. And, they further deserve for this dirty little deal to be struck down by the Council. If that doesn't happen, then not only should Mayor Ballard be held accountable at the ballot box, but, so too should every Councillor who remains silent.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Arrest of Bell, CA, Officials

So, what would you say to the arrest and prosecution of the Mayor and 80% of the City Council? Like the old joke, maybe -- a good start?

Well in the ongoing exposure of 'corruption on steriods' in the small, southern California town of Bell, that is exactly what has happened. The Mayor, Vice Mayor, City Manager, Assistant City Manager, and four of the five City Council members have been arrested and charged with the misappropriation of funds.

Thanks to an alert reader of this blog, for the tip.

You will recall, this past July (see "Bell City - Just the Apex of Business as Usual" and "Update on Bell") an LA Times investigation exposed the enormous salaries of the City managers and fake meetings held to amp up the part time salaries of the Council members, and how the Bell town folk erupted in anger at the news. Well justice has come a-knocking.

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting the following:

"This, needless to say, is corruption on steroids," [LA County] District Attorney Steve Cooley said at a news conference, standing next to a display of pictures of the suspects.

Rizzo, who was making nearly $800,000 a year, was booked on 53 counts of misappropriation of public funds and conflict of interest. He was expected to be arraigned Wednesday, with officials seeking bail of $3.2 million.

Others taken into custody were former Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia, Vice Mayor Teresa Jacobo, Councilmen George Mirabal and Luis Artiga, and former Councilmen George Cole and Victor Bello.

The complaint said Rizzo made $4.3 million by paying himself through different employment contracts that were not approved by the City Council and that council members paid themselves a combined $1.25 million for what Cooley called "phantom meetings" of various city boards and agencies.

Rizzo also was accused of giving $1.9 million in loans to himself, Spaccia, Hernandez, Artiga and dozens of others, authorities said.

Cooley said his office had been investigating the officials since March - four months before the public learned they were paying themselves huge salaries to run the city of 40,000 people.
And the San Francisco Examiner reports on the investigation of how a poor town was able to sustain the high salaries nearly all of their officials got:

The Bell, California corruption probe continued with an audit revealing over $50 million in mismanaged city funds.

The audit, commissioned by State Controller John Chiang, examined over $65 million in city government spending.

The audit revealed financial improprieties including over $5.6 million in questionable licensing fees, an unnecessary $50 million bond, $10.4 million paid to contracting companies owned by Bell's director of planning services, a $4.8 million sweetheart land deal with a former mayor and nearly $6 million in compensation packages for the mayor and other top city officials. City Manager Robert Rizzo received a salary nearly twice that of President Barack Obama. Of the $50 million bond, over $23.5 sat in a noninterest bearing account for a Bell Sports Complex with no development plan.

Interim City Manager Pedro Carrillo, interim City Attorney Jamie Casso and Lorenzo Velez -- the lone member of the city council not under investigation -- continued meeting regularly to keep business going in Bell.

Here is the AP video report:

Meanwhile, former Bell Chief of Police is under investigation for possibly defrauding the California state pension system. The LA Times reports:
Los Angeles County prosecutors are investigating former Bell Police Chief Randy Adams for having himself declared disabled for the job the day he was hired, an arrangement that could pay him millions in tax-free pension money, Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley said Thursday.

The Times reported Thursday that Adams struck a deal with former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo that guaranteed the incoming chief a disability retirement because of injuries he sustained years earlier. Under such a retirement, he would not have to pay taxes on half his pension income.

Adams' attorney, Mark Pachowicz, said his client had done nothing wrong and the pension agreement was merely an effort to avoid litigation with Bell if the city objected to a disability retirement sometime in the future."I don't think he should be under investigation," Pachowicz said.

Adams, 59, entered into the pact with Rizzo even though he had filed for a less lucrative non-disability retirement as he prepared to leave his job as Glendale police chief. That application was approved, but he rescinded it the same month his service officially ended in Glendale and he went to work for Bell in 2009, Glendale and state pension officials say.

Glendale City Manager Jim Starbird said that Adams, who worked in the city for six years, was not disabled and had never indicated to him that he should be entitled to a medical retirement.

Disability pensions are designed for employees who must give up a job because of a work-related injury, and the tax break is intended to compensate them for lost earnings, said representatives of the California Public Employees' Retirement System.

There is little corruption, and big corruption. Then there is gynormous corruption. For the easy and obvious conclusion to this blog entry, let me first apologize to John Donne, then quote him:
"Ask not for whom the Bell tolls, it tolls for thee."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

MDC / CIB Interlocal Agreement

I just got a copy of the MDC / CIB Interlocal Cooperation Agreement that commits $8 million a year from the Consolidated Downtown TIF to the uses of the CIB. While the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association is mentioned liberally, it is clearly a straw dog created to validate the $8 million price tag. It was approved by the Metropolitan Development Commission at their September 1, 2010, meeting.

I uploaded the agreement [edited to add page 5, which is missing from the other document] , if you care to review it. The terms of the agreement begin on page 7. Briefly, the agreement is for $8 million annually to be provided to the CIB, and requires 6 months notice or the agreement will automatically renew year to year.

While the stated purpose of the agreement is "to protect, further, increase and enhance the benefits that result from the operation of the Facilities and the activities of the ICVA", the agreement specifically states that the ICVA is not a third party beneficiary of the agreement.

With this agreement, property tax dollars are now flowing to the CIB. These are new dollars. They amount to $8 million per year on an ongoing basis. The only new expenses of the CIB are the operation of the expanded convention center and the $10 million cash gift to the Pacers. It is completely reasonable to connect these dots and see property tax dollars flowing from the City of Indianapolis to the Pacers.

These property tax dollars could be used to pay off the bond obligations of the TIF district early, or to promote $8 million in new projects. Such a project could even include upgrading parking meters in the downtown area.

But, no. The Pacers are given higher priority by Mayor Ballard, than being fiscally responsible in paying off debt, or fiscally responsible in crafting an upgrade to the parking meter project, or underwriting some other deserving project in the downtown area that would actually make Indianapolis a better place to live. The Council should reject the $10 million gift in the 2011 CIB budget and let the CIB and MDC unwind this agreement.

The DMD Budget Hearing - Say What ?

The 'great catch award' goes to Councillor Brian Mahern for his persistence in questioning at last night's budget hearing for the Department of Metropolitan Development, on an item that turns out not to be in DMD's budget at all -- the $10 million gifted to the Pacers by the Capital Improvement Board for 2011.

The questioning and answering was dispersed throughout the budget discussion - so I noted the timestamp in case you'd like to fast forward to these segments -- timestamps 45:00 - 49:00, 50:30 - 52:40, and 1:00:50 - 1:05:50 on the Channel 16 broadcast (click here, then on 'video' for September 13, 2010).

Mahern was following up on an IBJ article by Scott Olson last month (see also my blog entry "CIB Says Its Budget Increase Isn't What It Looks Like") where it was first disclosed that $8 million in funding for the ICVA would come "from downtown-development funds", freeing dollars that the CIB usually sends to the ICVA. The CIB was then able to build a budget within which they could donate $10 million to the Pacers.

Upon reading that article previously, I had assumed this was money from the Sports Development Area, that was created, and recently expanded, to provide funds for the downtown sports and tourist industry. Wrong ! These "downtown-development funds" are actually coming from the downtown 'consolidated TIF' area. So, now we have expanded the footprint of the tax dollars being redirected to these endeavors that really should be self sustaining.

The information illuminated last night was that the Metropolitan Development Commission has the authority to dispense TIF revenue any way it pleases, as long as it abides by the parameters set up for that TIF area by the Council. It pleased the MDC, evidently, to send $8 million to the ICVA. (David Reynolds, City Controller, actually called it an 'opportunity' to fund the ICVA.)

Mahern made a particularly salient point, when he referred to last year's increase in hotel tax. He noted that the Council amended the ordinance with a provision that the hotel tax could not be used to enrich any sports team.

Mayor Ballard and that clever lot on the 25th floor, struck a deal with the Council to get the hotel tax increased, then quickly engineered a way around the deal, it would seem.

The municipal corporations committee, Chaired by Councillor Barbara Malone, will consider the CIB budget on October 11 at 5:30 in room 260 of the City-County Building. It is worth repeating, the CIB-Pacers agreement gives an out should the Council not fund that item in the CIB budget for 2011. The Council can just say 'no' to gifting the Pacers with the 2011 installment of $10 million. And they should.

Decatur School Board Meets Tonight

The Decatur Township school board meets tonight to adopt the 2011 budget - without having held a single work session on the topic. A set of paper mache stand-ins would be as effective in representing the public interest as are Cathy Wiseman, Dale Henson, Don Huffman, Doug Greenwald, and Judy Collins.

Heaven help the taxpayers of Decatur Township.

Monday, September 13, 2010

City Budget Hearings This Week

This week includes three nights of budget hearings before various committees of the City-County Council.

Up tonight is the budget for the Department of Metropolitan Development. After a copious injection of federal stimulus dollars last year and this, the budget is falling back to the pre-downturn days. In a budget of $35 million, roughly $6 million will go to personal services (salaries and benefits), and the vast vast majority of $29 million will pass through to 'other services and charges' (contracts, rent, etc.).

Tuesday night, the budgets for Information Services Agency ($34 m), County Assessor ($7.6 m), and Telecom & Video Services ($0.5 m) will be discussed. ISA (the IT service for the City and County) has been steadily growing in staff budget -- almost doubling from $2.5 m in 2008 to a proposed $4.3 m for 2011. It will be interesting to see why they need a $3.7 m increase in professional services contracts. The total budget request is for an overall increase of $1.6 m. The County Assessor budget for salaries has been steadily dropping from the days of reassessment; with a further drop of about $300,000 this year to $5.8 m. The Telecom folks are most notable for WCTY broadcasts. While bringing in an estimated $8.5 m from cable franchise fees, they will only spend about $0.5 m; the remainder of the revenue goes to the County fund.

Wednesday night its time for reviewing the Circuit Court ($1 m), Superior Court ($52 m), County Clerk ($6 m), and County Sheriff ($103 m). The Circuit Court budget has bounced a tiny bit over the past few years, but the lion's share goes to salaries - $767,900 for 2011. $36 m of the Superior Court budget would go to personnel, down $2 m from this year. A drop in ISA charges and 'other services' and equipment costs account for the other million dollars in budget reductions. Keeping the trend alive, the Clerk's budget is primarily for personnel, which is being reduced by $200,000 for 2011. The total budget is reduced by about half that for 2011. The Sheriff's budget on the revenue side, anticipates a big spike in income from 'emergency 911' taxes - going from $0.2 m this year to $1.0 m next. Also changing is an increase in federal grants from $0.8 m this year to $1.4 m next and a drop in reimbursements from interlocal agreements from $5 m this year to $3.8 m next. Overall, Sheriff revenues are proposed to drop by $0.5 m. Expenses, however, are proposed to drop by $4.5 m; back to their 2008 levels. Salaries weigh in at $61.5 m, down $0.7 m from this year, but still $7 m more than 2008. Supplies are set to drop by $1.4 m, due mostly to savings in 'garage & motor supplies', 'general office supplies', and 'repair parts', all of which are the same or more than those items in 2008. $2.6 m is being cut from 'other services & charges', due mostly to a drop in 'equipment repair', 'ISA charges', and 'professional services' contracts, and 'other services & charges'.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Urbanophile's Take on Indy's Proposed Parking Meter Lease

Thanks to Paul Ogden for the heads up about this : There is a stunning piece on the Urbanophile blog regarding the proposed 50 lease of Indy's parking meters to ACS that is now before the City-County Council (prop 229; proposed lease agreement). Entitled "Indy's 'Son of Chicago' Parking Meter Lease to Be a Disaster for City", blogger Aaron Renn compares Chicago's parking meter lease agreement with the one proposed for Indy. I did check and Indy's agreement is indeed an extensive cut and paste of Chicago's, but with some parts left out.

The points raised by Renn's extensive analysis need to be addressed by the promoters of this deal. The text says "If anyone wants to republish this, feel free to do so." So here goes my own cut and paste:

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010
Indy’s “Son of Chicago” Parking Meter Lease to Be a Disaster for City

The next couple of generations will pay the price…It’s despicable, the way it went down…I don’t think the aldermen understood the long-term consequences of what they did. – Chicago Ald. Scott Waguespack

These deals are rarely done under the bright light of public scrutiny. Often the facts come out long after the deal is done. – Richard Little, Director of the Keston Institute for Public Finance and Infrastructure Policy at the University of Southern California

Note: If anyone wants to republish this, feel free to do so.

I previously explained why signing a long term lease on parking meters was a bad public policy idea. Today I’ll show the practical dangers, using the Indianapolis example as a cautionary tale of how a parking meter lease can go wrong and turn into a civic fiasco. Even if you don’t live in Indy, this is relevant to you as your city is likely looking at privatizing parking or other services where these are things to look out for.

I’m not in Indy anymore, so perhaps this should be of no concern to me. But when I see something so terrible about to befall a place I care about, I have to say something. The deal Indy is signing with its vendor (ACS) is so bad and so one-sided, it almost defies comprehension.

Parking Meters Will Be a Cash Register That Never Stops Ringing for the Vendor

The first and most fundamental question is why the city needs to pay a third party vendor so much for something as basic as running a parking meter system. The city says it will get $400 million under this contract. The Indianapolis Business Journal estimated that the vendor would get between $724 million and $1.2 billion. How much of that is profit to the vendor? No one will ever know since according to the contract, the city is specifically barred from learning anything about the cost or profitability of the system, and any information it does get from the vendor has to be treated as confidential with the city’s people signing non-disclosure agreements, unless the law compels otherwise. The city has said the vendor’s profits are no concern of theirs.

But let’s do the math for ourselves to take a quick look. According to Schedule 9 of the concession contract, the operations of the parking system only costs the city $844K/year right now. That’s not very much, and shows that whatever efficiencies might be gained, they won’t be big dollars in the grand scheme of things. Let’s assume this remains constant in real dollars, and inflates at the same 2.5% rate used in the contract. According to this presentation from the city (slide 50), it will cost $7 million to upgrade the system to pay and display and such. So let’s also assume the vendor has to pay that $7 million in capital every ten years, also adjusted for inflation. That adds up to about $82M in operating expenses and $61M in capital expenses for a total cash outlay of $143M.

On a pre-tax basis, this deal is almost pure profit for the vendor, adding up to between ~$600M and ~$1,050B, or a potential profit margin of almost 90% in the high scenario.
The totals would need to be discounted back to find the present value of the profits, but it is very clear that the city is giving away a huge chunk of the system profit. And for what? Collecting quarters out of meters? Doing basic maintenance? Writing tickets? These could easily be obtained on the open market on a simple service contract basis. Denison Parking does the job today in fact, and I haven’t heard complaints. The vendor is assuming Denison’s contract, so why is the city forking over all this money again?

The Timing and Approach Is Flawed

Indy is signing a 50 year deal in a terrible market. We are in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression. Are asset values likely to be high or low now? It’s obvious. Is now a good time to be selling a house? Clearly not, so why would be it a good time to do a 50 year sale of parking meters? The Toll Road lease was masterfully done at the peak of the bubble. The city is under no pressure to do a deal, but is selling at a time when it will only get fire sale prices.

Also, it does not appear the city engaged an independent financial advisor to look at the deal from the public’s perspective, repeating a key failure in the Chicago lease process. The Chicago Reader noted a Chicago Inspector General’s report critical of that city’s deal: “In its damning report on the agreement, the inspector general’s office concluded that the city may have leased the meters for $974 million less than they were worth. The reason, the report concluded, was that William Blair’s calculations of the system’s value were all done from the perspective of an investor—they were based on what that investor might be willing and able to pay for the meters, not what their value was to the city.”

No financial advisor other than Morgan Stanley (which is in William Blair’s role on the Indy deal) was listed on the city’s parking web site or in a presentation (slide 58) listing the city’s team members. By contrast, Pittsburgh not only hired Morgan Stanley as an investment bank, they hired Scott Balice Strategies as an independent advisor to represent the city’s interests.

Incidentally, Morgan Stanley is the concession holder on the Chicago lease deal. They appear to have fleeced that city. Don’t take my word for it, read the independent financial press, such as this Bloomberg piece, “Morgan Stanley’s $11 Billion Makes Chicago Taxpayers Cry” or in the New York Times: “Company [Morgan Stanley] Piles Up Profits from City’s Parking Meter Deal.” This should be raising major questions about their role in the Indy deal.

The Contract Is Unconscionably Awful for the City

I also read the entire concession agreement. While I’m not a lawyer, I’ve negotiated multi-million contracts on both sides of the table and actually used to work in the outsourcing business, so I’m extremely familiar with the issues from a corporate perspective. I would certainly encourage anyone to do their own due diligence and study this for themselves, but even if I’m wrong on a few of these, the overall thrust is almost surely accurate.

Among my findings:

1. This is the Chicago parking meter lease.The city has said this deal is very different from Chicago’s notorious parking meter lease. But what they didn’t tell you is that not only is this very much like Chicago’s, it’s literally the exact same contract. That’s right, Indy took the Chicago contract, did a Save As, and tweaked it. Check for yourself. Indy’s deal is here and Chicago’s is here. Given that Chicago’s deal is famously one-sided, this is mind-boggling. I estimate that the majority of the two contracts are word for word identical. This tidbit – “the foregoing sentence shall be interpreted and applied in a manner most favorable to the Concessionaire” – gives you a flavor of how the thing goes. And where Indy’s differs, it is often even worse. I never would have believed that possible.

2. The city has no right to terminate the agreement. The contract for this 50 year deal explicitly states: “The City hereby acknowledges and agrees that it may only terminate this Agreement in accordance with the express terms hereof and shall not, in any event, have the right to terminate this Agreement for convenience.” (Section 16.1). The city can only terminate the deal if the vendor defaults, which is virtually impossible. In a deal like Chicago’s meter lease or the Toll Road, where the only payment the government gets is a lump sum up front fee, perhaps there’s some logic in not allowing the deal to be terminated. But with a very modest $35 million up front fee (compared to a deal value of over $1 billion) and with a needed up front investment of only $7 million (according to the city), it’s unconscionable to not have the right to terminate. The citizens of Indianapolis with be irrevocably locked into a terrible deal for more than a generation – and for very little upfront cash.

3. Penalties are often higher than the actual meter value. One aspect of the Chicago deal that was heavily criticized is that when the city shuts down meters, it has to pay a penalty that assumes the meters were fully occupied at all times, regardless of how much they are normally occupied. Believe it or not, Indy even upped the game here. In two out of the four zones, the penalty for closing the meter is more than if the meter is 100% occupied. The closure fee is $15 for Zone 2 & 3, increasing with inflation. But fully increased rate for Zone 2 is $1 an hour for 13 hours a day – you do the math. It’s only $1 an hour for 11 hours a day in Zone 3. Those meters are literally worth more to the vendor bagged than they could ever be operational. These penalties have to be paid regardless of the actual average utilization of those meters. The penalty for the other two zones ($20) is just shy of the theoretical maximum, but still way too high. (See Definitions, “Temporary Closure Fee” and Schedule 5).

4. The vendor gets the rights to collect parking ticket revenue and sell advertising and naming rights. In the Chicago deal, the city gets all of the money for tickets, and retains all the rights and money for advertising and naming rights for itself. In the Indy deal, the vendor gets these rights, though the city has to approve the specifics of advertising. What is an advertising concession for thousands of locations downtown worth? It could easily be more than the meters themselves. This should have been bid to major outdoor advertising firms in an open process to maximize city revenue, not thrown into the parking meter deal, assuming festooning downtown with ads is something you want to do in the first place.

5. Residential permit parking is coming to Broad Ripple. The city says it plans to use the meter proceeds to build a new garage in Broad Ripple. Broad Ripple is Zone 4, and the contract says, “In the event the City builds a public parking garage in Zone 4 during the Term, the City will agree to institute a Residential Permit program for non-metered parking spaces in and around Zone 4 to be administered by the Concessionaire on terms mutually agreeable to the Parties.” Did you know that? The city is contractually obligating itself to specific permit parking policies in that neighborhood. Now perhaps permit parking’s not a terrible idea, but isn’t it something that should be vetted through the normal political process? And be subject to change over time, not locked in for 50 years?

Outside of Broad Ripple, the city has actually limited its ability to establish residential permit parking zones. Per the contract: “The City reserves the right to designate certain on-street parking that are not Metered Parking Spaces as residential parking requiring a Residential Permit, provided that such designation does not materially effect the Metered Parking System in the surrounding area.” How nice of the vendor to agree to this. If it does affect the vendor, they are entitled to compensation. Also, if the city does establish permit parking, the vendor gets to run that too – including getting the revenue from parking tickets.

6. The vendor even gets revenue from tickets written by IPD or other city agents. The vendor has the right to write tickets on the system, but the city also has the rights. And even if the city writes the tickets, the vendor still gets the money: “The Concessionaire shall have the exclusive right to collect and retain all Parking Violation Revenue during the Term in accordance with Enforcement Policies and Procedures, regardless of whether such Parking Violation Revenue resulted from Parking Enforcement conducted by the Enforcement Operator or the City’s designated law enforcement officers.”

The city retains the cost of adjudicating parking tickets, however. It does get to judge the validity of tickets, but disturbingly, the contract actually specifies the judicial outcomes it expects: “The City shall remain responsible for the adjudication related to the Parking Enforcement; provided that such adjudication shall be consistent with the historical practices of the City, including a consistent level of parking tickets that are dismissed or appealed.”

Incredibly, the city even owes money to the vendor if the public starts appealing tickets at a rate more than 30% more than currently, regardless of whether the appeals have merit or not (Section 7.8). It’s considered a “Compensation Event.”

Add this up and what it means is the vendor can write tickets, gets to have the revenue counted to it (minus the revenue share), and if the vendor just starts writing bogus tickets to inflate its own revenues, and the public protests them, the vendor gets even more money. That’s right, the vendor can literally print money for itself simply by writing as many tickets as it feels like.

Another hugely risky item. One other change from the Chicago deal is that the city is agreeing to indemnify the vendor against any court ruling that the vendor can’t write tickets or collect parking ticket revenue (Section 12.2). Someone is challenging the Chicago lease by saying that since the city transferred the meters by bill of sale (just like Indy), it’s a private business now and the city’s police powers can’t be used to enforce parking rules for the benefit of a private company. I believe this is still being litigated. I’m not sure what the law would be in Indiana, but if similar claims were raised and ended up being successful, the city could be on the hook for possibly hundreds of millions of dollars.

7. The vendor automatically gets the right to any new meters, but the city has to pay to remove any meters. In the Chicago deal, the city has to negotiate with the existing vendor for new meters outside the existing concession area, but is free to take its business elsewhere if the vendor won’t match what a competitor would offer. In Indy, any new meters are automatically enrolled in the new deal. (Section 7.7) I didn’t see where this was limited to the four specified zones, so it might in fact apply to any meter in the city.

However, if the city removes a meter, they have to pay a meter removal fee. In the first year, this is $15,400 per meter in Zone 1. I didn’t see any provision for offsetting adds and removes, meaning if the city adds three meters and removes one, the vendor gets the three new ones automatically and the city is still on the hook to pay for the one they removed. What’s more, the city is also on the hook for any lost parking ticket revenue the vendor would have gotten off that space too.

To show how one-sided this deal is, if the city adds more than 10% new meters, the vendor actually has the right to reject them. That doesn’t mean that the city can take its business elsewhere though. Rather, it puts them into a special category where the vendor runs them, but the city is responsible for the costs of setting them up (Section 7.7). That hardly sounds like what we’ve been told that all the risk is outsourced. By the way, Chicago has these types of meters too, but the vendor is only entitled to a 15% management fee for them, whereas in the Indy deal, they get a full revenue share.

8. Temporary closure policies are worse than Chicago’s. There’s a cost associated with closing meters for more than a very small temporary closure allowance. The Indianapolis closure allowance is worse than Chicago’s. In Chicago’s system, closures of six hours or more are treated as an entire day while those less than six hours are ignored. In Indy, anything greater than four hours is treated as a full day closure. In Chicago, Central Business District meters can be closed under the contract for up to 8% of the days without penalty. In Indy it is only 6% (see Definitions, “Temporary Closure Allowance”).

9. Will festival and events organizers see new fees? Section 7.6 says, “the Concessionaire shall charge, collect and retain the applicable Temporary Closure Fee from any Person (other than the City), in advance, in respect of any Temporary Closure requested by such Person.” What this sounds like to me is that if anyone other than the city wants to shut down meters, they’ve got to pay the vendor, and pay in advance. Does this mean anyone who wants to hold a festival or event downtown – even on a Saturday, since meters need to be fed then under the new contract – will have to pay this parking fee? And since the city has a revenue share, is this a stealth tax on those events? It’s not clear to me, but the contract explicitly says valet parking operators have to pay up.

10. Even the city has to pay to use the spots. As part of this program, all city issued parking placards are cancelled (Section 3.19). Now clearly this program has been abused in the past, but it seems legitimate that city vehicles on official business should be able to park on the city’s own streets for free. But I couldn’t find any provision of the deal that allows city owned vehicles to be parked in these spots for free even on city business, other than emergency response vehicles during an actual emergency. The contract does talk about an “employee parking program”, but the city or the employees will be paying for it. This is even more revenue for the vendor.
I could go on and on, but these are the highlights and should establish pretty clearly how bad this contract is for the city. It’s one of the worst I’ve ever seen. Even the Force Majeure clause is one way and only provides an out for the vendor, not the city.

An All Around Bad Deal

I’ll again reiterate that this deal is simply bad public policy. Because none of the parameters of parking policy can be changed unless they make the vendor even richer, the city has de facto frozen its parking policy for 50 years. This even applies to areas people probably have no idea of, like requiring permit parking in Broad Ripple.

An example. Imagine the city wanted to take 20% of its metered spots and replace them with electric car charging stations, making them free and reserved for electric vehicles in order to encourage that transition? Can’t do it. (If the city did that, it might fall afoul of the even worse Adverse Action clause I didn’t get around to).

Another example: Maybe the city decides it wants to close Monument Circle (or any other street) to traffic after all. It can’t do it without paying a big fee, both for the directly impaired meters, and for obstructing access to other meters, which the contract forbids the city to do.

The list goes on and on. We have no idea what the world will be like in 10 years, much less 50. This isn’t something like a water system where all it is really useful for is delivering water and it is pretty reasonable to assume we’ll still want plenty of safe, clean water tomorrow. This is general purpose real estate. This is one of the most precious assets of any city – its public space – a policy area that is experiencing rapid innovation. In fact, Indy is on the forefront of that with the Cultural Trail – but perhaps no longer. No matter what the contract might say, this is a de facto ground lease on the streets of downtown and Broad Ripple.

But beyond bad policy, again, it would appear given even a casual analysis to be a terrible financial deal for the city. And the market timing couldn’t be worse in the teeth of the Great Recession. And the contract is an unmitigated disaster.

If the City County County votes to approve this deal, the city will regret it for decades to come, just like Chicago. I hope city leaders see this and change course before it’s too late.

Chicago vs. Indianapolis

Here is a summary of various aspects of the two cities’ deals, showing how Indy’s is actually worse than Chicago’s in many respects:

Naming RightsRetained by the CityGiven to Vendor
Advertising RightsRetained by the CityGiven to Vendor
Parking Ticket RevenueVendor Can Write Tickets, City Gets 100%Vendor Can Write Tickets, Vendor Gets 45-80%
Annual Closure Allowance (CBD)8%6%
Threshold for Considering a Day Closed6 hours4 hours
New MetersOutside concession area, city can bid to othersAutomatically given to concessionaire
Indemnity for Vendor Being Declared Ineligible for Parking Ticket ProtectionNoneUnlimited
Fee for Reserved Meters (ones the vendor didn’t want to install)15% Management Fee to VendorFull 45-80% revenue share split
Penalty Rate for ClosuresMaximum Possible Meter Utilization for DayGreater than the Maximum Possible Meter Utilization for Day in two zones

Recommended Reading

IBJ: City Vendor May Get $1.2 Billion from Parking Privatization DealBloomberg: Morgan Stanley’s $11 Billion Makes Chicago Taxpayers CryNY Times: Company Piles Up Profits from Chicago’s Parking Meter DealChicago Reader: FAIL: The Chicago Parking Meter InvestigationChicago Inspector General: An Analysis of the Lease of the City’s Parking Meters

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Two Council Committees Review Budgets This Week

The City-County Council's Administration and Finance committee and the Public Safety committee will consider budgets this week. They will also take public comment on these particular budgets. Both meet in room 260 of the City-County Building and begin at 5:30 pm.

On Tuesday, September 7, the Admin & Finance committee takes a look at the budgets for the City-County Council and Clerk, the Election Board, Voter Registration, the Marion County Recorder, and the Marion County Surveyor. Each of these budgets are summarized in the budget summary book, published online. See pages 64, 80, 82, 84, and 88, of the pdf, respectively.

The City-County Council is asking for $1,669,793, down from this year's $1,752,448. But, this year includes an extraordinary item - $290,000 for redistricting. At last year's budget hearing, Melissa Thompson, Clerk of the Council, and then-President Bob Cockrum testified that they would begin redistricting late in 2010 and ask for a like amount for early 2011. this proposal has drawn quite a bit of flack, including from me (see "Budget Hearings -- All Admin & Finance Committee Budgets") as being premature, given that the 2010 census figures will not be available in time for this scheduled redistricting and the process would have to be repeated in 2012 to comply with state law.

The Election Board budget is proposed to be $3,310,790, down from this year's $3,495,492.

The Voter Registration budget proposal is for $954,467, down from this year's $1,001,080.

The Marion County Recorder budget is $1,883,650, down from $2,040,540 this year.

The Marion County Surveyor budget is $559,476, up from $500,514.

The Public Safety committee will consider the budgets for County Coroner, Forensic Service Agency, and Community Corrections. You can find their budgets on pages 24, 22, 34 of the pdf, respectively.

The Coroner's budget is being proposed at $4,238,727, up significantly from last year's $2,980,769. The increases are in salaries, professional services contracts, and office furniture & equipment (see pages 50-51 of the 'Expenses by Agency' book). Federal grants are expected to jump from $53,050 this year, to $1,391,109 next.

The budget for the Forensic Service Agency is $6,612,483, up from $6,139,938 this year. The increases appear to be mostly for increased personnel costs, laboratory supplies, conference & travel expenses, maintenance/licensing agreements, professional services contracts, and equipment (see pages 68-69 of the 'Expenses by Agency' book). Both federal grants and money from the county general fund are proposed to increase.

The Community Corrections budget is proposed at $9,546,942, down from $10,441,410 this year. Major cuts in funding from Home Detention and federal stimulus money could be important factors, driving the cuts.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Public Notice Catchup - A little bit of everything

Public Notices in Thursday's Indy Star included the CIB, the Town of Speedway, Rocky Ripple, and the Town of Clermont. Westfield was also noticed. Friday followed up with Beech Grove Schools, Health & Hospitals, IMCPL, and the Beech Grove Library.

The CIB's public notice was a more detailed list of expected receipts and expenditures for the remainder of 2010 and the full 2011. More on this in a later post, after I have pulled the same statements from last year's budget. The capsule version is that with an estimated budget for 2011 of $104,440,502, they will not get any money from property taxes - unchanged from this year. The CIB's public notice failed to mention any public hearing either at the CIB (which already held their public hearing) or at the Council. The City-County Council will take public comment on September 20, beginning at 7:00 pm, along with any comments for any budget that is working its way through the Council committees. The Municipal Corporations committee will consider this budget and take public comments on October 11, beginning at 5:30 pm. The full Council meets in the public assembly room and the committees meet in room 260 of the City-County Building.

The Town of Speedway estimates a budget of $12,520,217, with a maximum property tax levy of $6,470,697, up from $5,219,915 this year. They note that the maximum levy limitation is $5,145,654. They will hold a public hearing on October 11 at 7:00 pm at the Speedway Town Hall, 1450 N. Lynhurst Drive. They expect to vote on the budget on October 25.

Rocky Ripple estimates a budget of $100,707, with a maximum of $24,261 coming from property taxes, down ever so slightly from this year's $24,443. They will hold a public hearing on September 14 at 7:30 pm at 930 W. 54th Street. They expect to vote on the budget on October 19.

The Town of Clermont estimates a maximum budget of $953,800, with a max of $529,618 coming from property taxes, up from $481,471 this year. Their public hearing will be on September 30 at 7:00 pm at the Clermont Town Hall (no address given). They expect to vote on the budget at their October 14 meeting.

The City-County Council's Rules committee will hold a non-binding public hearing on all the small Towns and the Township budgets on September 28 in room 118 of the City-County Building, beginning at 5:30 pm.

Beech Grove Schools estimate a total budget of $29,378,233, with a maximum of $14,031,380 coming from property taxes, up from $9,271,971 this year. They will hold a public hearing on this budget, their 3-year capital projects plan and their 20-year bus replacement plan on September 20 at 6:00 pm at 5330 Hornet Avenue. They expect to vote on the budget on October 18.

The Marion County Health & Hospitals Corporation is estimating a budget of $392,902,679, with $102,130,737 coming from property taxes, up from $102,678,763 this year.

The Indianapolis Marion County Public Library estimates a total budget of $53,500,000 with a max of $46,800,000 coming from property taxes, up from $37,474,023 this year. They note that the maximum levy limitation is $39,500,000 and an excessive levy appeal of $3,500,000.

The full City-County Council will hold a public hearing on H&H and IMCPL budgets, along with the rest running through the committees into October, at their September 20 meeting, beginning at 7:00 pm. The Municipal Corporations committee will consider these two budgets at their September 27 meeting. The schedule says that they will meet at 5:30 in room 118, but check the notice posted outside the room. Another committee is also scheduled for the same time and room and one would think one of the two would meet in room 260.

The Beech Grove Library estimates a total budget of $1,163,400 for 2011, with a maximum property tax levy of $1,115,000, down slightly from this year's $1,116,091. Their Board will hold a public hearing on October 14 at 6:00 pm at the Beech Grove Public Library (no address given). They expect to vote on the budget on October 25.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Public Notices - Township, City, and Town Budgets Galore

Tons of public notices of 2011 budget hearings in today's Indianapolis Star.

Perry Township is estimating a total budget of $1,289,045, with a max of $381,060 to come from property taxes, up from $346,557 this year. Their public hearing will be held on October 5 at 7:00 pm at 4925 S. Shelby. they expect to vote on the budget on October 19.

The City of Lawrence is estimating a maximum total budget of $30,636,000, with an estimated maximum from property taxes of $11,250,000, up from $8,923,358 this year. they will hold their public hearing on September 15 at 6:30 pm at 9001 E. 59th Street. They expect to vote on the budget on November 1.

The Town of Cumberland estimates a maximum budget of $4,511,568, with a maximum of $2,628,246 coming from property taxes, up from $2,111,967 this year. Their public hearing will be on September 15 at 7:00 pm at 11501 E. Washington Street. They expect to vote on the budget on October 6.

Pike Township estimates a maximum total budget of $24,237,505, with a max of $15,149,087 coming from property taxes, up from $12,055,773 this year. The public hearing will be on September 21 at 5:30 pm at 5665 Lafayette Road. they will vote on the final budget on October 19.

The City of Beech Grove is estimating a budget of $10,223,602, with $6,711,604 from property taxes, up from $5,576,089 this year. The public hearing will be on October 11 at 7:00 pm at 5245 Hornet Avenue. the budget will be voted upon on October 25.

Center Township estimates a total budget of $9,777,373, with $2,678,968 coming from property taxes, unchanged from this year. the hearing will be September 14 at 5:00 pm at 300 E. Fall Creek Parkway. they will vote on the budget at their October 26 meeting.

Decatur Township estimates a total budget of $9,186,657, with $7,160,929 coming from property taxes, up from $5,474,087 this year. The hearing will be on October 12 at 5:30 pm at 5410 S. High School Road. they will vote on the budget at their October 26 meeting.

Lawrence Township estimates a maximum budget of $17,397,258, with $16,877,834 coming from property taxes, up from $11,936,121 this year. They will hold a public hearing on September 23 at 6:00 pm at 9001 E. 59th Street. They will vote on the budget at their October 19 meeting.

The Tri-County Conservancy District (in Heartland Crossing) estimates a maximum total budget of $3,151,833, with $565,000 coming from property taxes, down slightly from this year's $569,908. They will hold a public hearing on October 12 at 9:00 am at 8355 Rockville Road. They expect to vote on the budget on October 26.

The Indianapolis International Airport estimates a total budget of $250,003,706, with no money coming from property taxes, unchanged from this year. The full City-County Council will hold a public hearing on this and other budgets on September 20 beginning at 7:00 pm in the Public Assembly Room of the City-County Building. The City-County Council Municipal Corporations committee will hold a hearing on October 11 beginning at 5:30 pm in room 260 of the City-County Building. The full Council is expected to vote on this budget at their October 25 meeting.