I saw the front page article by reporter Francesca Jarosz entitled "Bush fixup fans tax tensions". As I read, my response morphed from annoyance, to disgust, to horror at the Ballard administration's abject lack of fiscal responsibility.
Jarosz reports that the Ballard administration intends on pilfering money from the Consolidated Downtown TIF district to pay $3.5 million of the $5 million it promised the redeveloper of old Bush Stadium. They intend on doing this, even though the TIF laws require that the property tax money collected from a TIF can only be used within that district or CONTIGUOUS WITH IT [IC 36-7-15.1-26(b)(2)(G)"that are physically located in or physically connected to that allocation area"]. Bush Stadium is nowhere near the Consolidated Downtown TIF district.
It gets worse.
Jarosz also reports that Ballard and his crew decided not to collect business personal property taxes AT ALL from the businesses in that TIF district this year AND next. When was that decided and when was that public hearing held? I know I would have shown up for that doozy.
Jarosz quotes some good sources who are sane.
“It’s at the expense of other units of government,” said Fred L. Armstrong, who was instrumental in creating the original downtown TIF as city controller for two decades and now consults with Indy Go on financial matters. “You’ve got to take care of your current problems before you create new ones.”and
“When we consider the never-ending uses for the downtown TIF dollars, it kind of looks a little slush-fund-like,” said Brian Mahern, a City-County Council Democrat who has been a vocal critic of the city’s economic development policies.and
Indianapolis leaders don’t provide that kind of specificity in the Bush Stadium case, he [Bruce Frankel, a professor of urban planning at Ball State University] said.
“Any project you can dream of probably has some general benefit to the downtown—or even the city—as a whole,” Frankel said. “The law was written for a purpose—it’s supposed to be targeted geographically.”Remember when Ballard and his people said the City could not legally take $8 million from the Consolidated Downtown TIF and buy new parking meters and keep all future revenue as an asset for future generations? Remember when Ballard and his people said the City could not take $2 million from the Consolidated Downtown TIF and help the Library get through a tough economy?
Remember when Ballard and his people gave $8 million A YEAR to the Pacers from the Consolidated Downtown TIF (laundering it through the CIB and ICVA)? Remember when Ballard and his people floated $98 million in new bonds in the Consolidated Downtown TIF to give a loan to a well connected developer for the North of South project?
What is the thread of real logic being used in all of these cases? It is not what is legal to do with the TIF revenues. It is not what is fiscally responsible to do with the TIF revenues. It is not what will improve the quality of life for those of use who live in Indianapolis.
The only thread of real logic being used is how can we rob the Consolidated Downtown TIF of all of its funds to benefit well connected fat cats?
The sidebar to Jarosz' article says that the City has tapped the Consolidated Downtown TIF district for $24 million over the last year. It includes $3.5 million in renovations for City Market, $600,000 for the 4th spoke of the ArtsGarden, $8 million to the ICVA (really the money laundering for the Pacers I noted above), and $9 million in infrastructure improvements for the North of South Project. I'd also have to include the $98 million in bonds floated for the North of South Project, but the sidebar does not.
The Ballard administration is either determined to spend every last dime that the City either has or can borrow, and leave enormous debt for all the future Mayors and taxpayers to contend with - or they don't know what they are doing. Either way, this City will face a very rocky future because of all the debt the Ballard administration is creating and how little existing debt it is paying off.
Had Enough Indy?