Saturday, June 25, 2011

Are They Insane, Stupid, or Totally Corrupt? Had Enough Indy ?

I just got home from doing my grocery shopping and got my copy of the IBJ out of my mailbox. 

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.”
“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.
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?


Paul K. Ogden said...

I'll have to read this article.

This makes me so disgusted I don't know where to start.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I should point out too that the Star immediately praised the Bush Stadium plan in the editorial page without even studying it like the IBJ did.

Had Enough Indy? said...

By now the news outlets should understand that well after the announcement, shoes will begin to drop. Its how this administration operates.

Advance Indiana said...

The IBJ's editorial pages always praise projects like this one where its news staff has raised serious questions about it. The TIFS are nothing but slush funds. Virtually ever tax administered in the USA is unconstitutional on its face because of all of the loopholes, excemptions, diversions, earmarks, etc. I'm beginning to think my relative who stopped filing tax returns and paying income taxes more than 30 years ago had the right idea. It's unconstitutional he said so I'm not paying it. And he hasn't for 30years. The same is true of the property tax system. Some of us pay taxes that are shared by the taxing districts; a select few get their property taxes earmarked for a slush fund to keep money pouring into special projects to beautify and enhance their neighorhoods that bolster their property values while the rest have to beg to have basic city services for the taxes we pay.

Rob A said...

I'm ignorant of how money flows into the TIF, but I interpreted what the article said to be that the business personal property taxes would not be pulled into (collected by) the TIF. Rather, those funds would be available to other government entities (general fund?). Can someone shed some light on the route collected funds take?

Paul K. Ogden said...

No, Rob, I think the IBJ said they didn't collect personal property taxes in the district which cost the city tens of millions of dollars.

Anonymous said...

What you are witnessing here is a local version of what is happening at the federal level, through multiple administrations. Our "leaders" believe they can do whatever they want, whenever they want because they know that most of the people have been propagandized and dis-informed so much so that they don't realize that they should fight back.