Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The All Important Budget Season Ready To Commence

By July 1, the County Assessor must report all real and personal property gross assessed values to the County Auditor.  This starts the budget season.  As Tom Carnegie used to say, "and, they're off" !

The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) publishes budget handbooks for the various governmental units.  I have pulled down some of the budget calendar dates to include in this blog entry, but you may want to look at a single unit's budget process as laid out by the DLGF.  I have to also mention, the DLGF is exceedingly helpful when you have a question. 

Setting a budget and setting tax rates are required to be open, public processes in Indiana.  Although some taxing units (in particular the School Districts) in Marion County, try to be as obtuse as possible, and some Superintendents even withhold information from elected Boards, the law requires that the public have access to the information and the ability to weigh in on the budget and the tax rates.

The public has, in my humble opinion, an obligation as well - to at least peek at some of the information and make sure that things haven't gotten wildly out of hand.  Not all of the information is easily digested.  Not all of the information is readily available.  But some is, and some is.  In particular, there is ample information that must be disclosed in the newspapers during the budget season that is worth having a lot of people look at.

Here are some of the important dates that relate to the public's ability to participate in the public process.  When the City-County Council is mentioned below, the date is what they have already specified.  When that body is not mentioned, it is the general deadline for action set by the DLGF.

August 15 - City-County Council meeting with Mayor Ballard's introduction of the budget.  The budget will be broken into segments and sent to the various Council committees for consideration and debate.  The committees open up for public comment after each piece is introduced.

September 2 - deadline - the first notice of a public hearing on the budget must be published in a local paper.  This must be at least 10 days before the public hearing and it must state the place and time of the hearing, as well as an estimate of the tax levy (amount of money to be raised through taxes) and the tax rate (rate at which the taxes will apply to property values).  Fair warning - these numbers are usually inflated at this point in time.  The taxing unit cannot exceed the tax rate that it publishes, but it is still working out all of the numbers and still getting solid numbers from the DLGF on expected tax revenues for all manner of taxes that are paid - wheel tax, income tax, cigarette tax, and on and on and on.  So, to protect themselves, the taxing units post higher than expected tax rates.

September 9 - deadline - the second notice of a public hearing on the budget must be published in a local paper.  This one must be at least 3 days before the public hearing.  It is identical to the first notice.

September 19 - City-County Council meeting that serves as the public hearing on the budget, tax levy, and tax rates.  The committees will continue to consider their segments of the budget, adopt any amendments and finally vote their segments out of committee.  It is not consistent whether public testimony will be taken during this set of committee meetings.  It is up to the Chair of each committee.

October 17 - City-County Council meeting to adopt the final budget and set property tax levy and property tax rate for 2012.

October 22 - deadline - last day for public hearing on the budget and tax rates.  This must be held at least 10 days prior to the meeting where the budget is adopted by the elected legislative body of the taxing unit (board or council).

October 29 - deadline - last day 10 or more taxpayers may object to the budget, tax levy, or tax rate of a city or town.  The objection must occur not more than 7 days after the public hearing.

November 1 - deadline - last day for all taxing units to adopt budgets, tax rates, and tax levies for 2012.

As I did last year, I will try to keep up with those public notices that I see in the Indy Star.  Should you notice one I have not mentioned, or see one in a smaller publication, please send me a note at  Budgets are dry and boring and not in the least bit sexy.  But, they are very important.   Besides setting the property tax rates for the coming year, they show exactly where each unit's priorities lay.  Politicians can say whatever they want.  The budget they create shows their priorities regardless of what their words say.  Those priorities should reflect the community's priorities.  But, unless the community pays attention and people show up and speak up, the budget may very well not reflect what is in the best interest of the people.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Request for Information From You, My Valued Reader

I am still as stunned and appalled as when I read yesterday, that the Ballard administration decided to "forgo collecting business personal property taxes" from the consolidated downtown TIF area - both this year and next.  (quote from IBJ's Francesca Jarosz article "Bush fixup fans tax tensions".)

I want to know - Who has the authority to decide to forgo any taxes from anybody?  Under what legal mechanism can you fairly and justly collect a tax from one person or business, and not collect it from their neighbor or another taxpayer in your jurisdiction?  Has this been done before?  Did the Ballard administration decide to forgo taxes that should have gone to IPS, IFD, IMCPL, IndyGo, and IndyParks as well as taxes that flow to the TIF district fund?

Here's where you come in.  I do not know who has the authority to do such things.  Therefore, I don't know where to send an open records request.  I figure one of my valued readers does know.  So, please leave a note in the comments section to help me find answers.

Remember, they chose to "forgo" property tax revenues at the same time that there was much gnashing of teeth about property tax caps.  They will be crying in their soup about it yet again when budget time commences formally in August.  Help me get some answers about this issue before then.


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?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

ICVA - Seems More Money Wasn't The Answer After All

You all remember the logic dominoes that were set falling about two years ago -- the convention center has been enlarged and we added all these additional hotel rooms to the downtown inventory (all with the ever generous support of the taxpayers) so now we have to spend even more money on the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association (ICVA) to market that new space and new rooms.

Here's a reminder of the vast increases in taxpayer and private dollars that have gone into the ICVA in the last year and a half.  This is part of a report from the January 28, 2010, IBJ article by Scott Olson entitled "ICVA receives $5.4 million gift":
The Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association announced at its annual meeting Thursday afternoon that it has received a $5.4 million gift-its largest from a private donor.

The contribution, which will be used to promote the city's tourism and convention business, came from the Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation Inc.

Dean White is the founder of Merrillville-based White Lodging, the developer of the $425 million, 1,600-room Marriott Place hotel complex downtown. The flagship 1,000-room JW Marriott is expected to open in February 2011.

"It's fantastic news," ICVA Executive Director Don Welsh said. "With the funding that we have, and the great product that we have, basically any excuses not to be successful are gone."

The grant from the Whites is to be spent over the next three years and totals nearly half the ICVA's $13 million annual budget. In a typical year, the association receives about $700,000 in private contributions.

The Indianapolis Capital Improvement Board funds 70 percent of its budget. The CIB, which operates the city's Indiana Convention Center and professional sports venues, increased the ICVA's funding from $6.9 million to $9 million in 2010.
Thursday's announcement follows a pledge Mayor Greg Ballard made earlier this month to give $1.5 million to the ICVA from funds returned to the city by companies that failed to meet job-creation promises tied to tax breaks.
Those funds also will enable the ICVA to better market the city both as a tourism and convention destination. The recent windfall is welcomed by John Livengood, president of the Indiana Restaurant & Hospitality Association.
"That has been our priority, to make sure [the ICVA has] the money to market Indianapolis," he said.
The ICVA has argued that it needs additional money to attract more conventions to the city. A $275 million expansion of the convention center, set to be finished early next year, adds 420,000 square feet to the mix. Including Lucas Oil Stadium, the ICVA will have 1.2 million square feet of convention space, 65 percent more than it had in the convention center and RCA Dome.
I love that quote from now Chicago resident, Don Welsh - "With the funding that we have, and the great product that we have, basically any excuses not to be successful are gone."

Fast forward to today.  This item in the current IBJ again by Scott Olson, entitled "ICVA expects to fall short of 2011 room-night goal":
The Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association likely will fall far short of its aggressive goal of booking 725,000 hotel room nights this year for future conventions.

New ICVA CEO Leonard Hoops cautioned members of Marion County's Capital Improvement Board on Monday that, through April, the association is pacing at about 75 percent of its target.

“My goal is to get us back to where we were last year,” he said. “So I might as well fire that warning shot right now.”

ICVA sales staff met their goal in 2010 by booking 650,000 room nights for future conventions, but in doing so tapped most of their prospects. As of the end of April, ICVA had booked about 165,000 room nights.

“To get to that 650,000, the team worked very hard to close that out,” Hoops said, “and we started the year with nothing in the tank.”
You just cannot throw enough money at these guys.  And what's even better, there is nobody holding them accountable.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Games with COIT, LOIT, PST and Library Funding

I don't know what actually takes more slight of hand, the movement of dollars from one fund to another that are said not to be possible, or the explanation of why it can't be done in similar situations.  Fully funding the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library is a prime example of this slight of hand.

Just last year, the City-County Council filled $1.0 million of a $1.8 million shortfall, with money laundered from the Ameriplex TIF District - money that had been sitting in the TIF District fund to act as a reserve to satisfy bond holders.  At the time, Councillors like President Ryan Vaughn, stated that they could not cover the remainder of the Library's shortfall with money from the Consolidated Downtown TIF District, even though it was exactly the same type of situation and even though they had just managed to pull $8 million a year from that TIF to pay more money to the Pacers.

Earlier this year, with much show and fanfare, the Council passed a resolution urging the Indiana State Legislature to grant them the power to send some County Option Income Tax revenues to the Library in future years.  The Legislature indicated that the City already had that power, but reaffirmed it with new legislation.  Now that the City and the Council has that power, Councillor Vaughn and others are making noises that indicate they will not split the COIT revenue with the Library anyway.

IBJ reporter, Francesca Jarosz, has a good article in the current IBJ that goes into the COIT - Library - IndyGo funding issue pretty well.  I agree with Councillor Jackie Nytes' position, captured in the final two paragraphs of the piece:
Jackie Nytes, a council Democrat, said giving the library even a small share of income taxes this year is important in setting a precedent.

“We recognize there is a need as a show of faith to find a way to begin that sharing of income taxes,” Nytes said, “even if the initial allocation may be more symbolic than substantive.”
I decided to look at the 2011 City-County budget to see where the City and County income tax money was going, just to see what I found.  I looked at the budget breakdown "2011 Council Adopted Revenues by Subobject by Fund" and "2011 Council Adopted Revenues by Fund by Subobject".  Click here for page with links to a variety of ways to dissect the budget.
But, first, a step back to explain that there are three separate taxes revenue streams that combine to total all of the income tax collected in Marion County.  There is the County Option Income Tax (COIT).  There is the Local Option Income Tax Property Tax Make Up (LOIT).  There is the Public Safety Option Income Tax (PST).  Some will tell you that the PST is dedicated to public safety an cannot under any circumstances be used for anything else.  But, that is not the case and in 2010 it was in fact redirected for use anywhere on anything to benefit the final City-County budget both in 2010 and in 2011.
In 2010, $21.1 m of COIT money and $13.3 m of PST money were put into the County Rainy Day Fund, where they were essentially laundered so that they could be used for any expense.  $17.3 m was transferred out that year and $17.5 m transferred out to benefit the entire budget.
So, for just 2011, how is COIT, LOIT, and PST being spent?
Fire fund -- $40.4 m
IMPD fund -- $79.2 m
County General Fund -- $6.4 m
MECA fund -- $6.8 m
Consolidated County fund -- $2.6 m
Parks fund -- $2.1 m
Redevelopment fund -- $55 k
Solid Waste Collection fund -- $3.1 m
Fire fund -- $8.8 m
IMPD Fund -- $4.8 m
County General Fund -- $13.9 m
Public Safety Income Tax fund (from City's take of PST) -- $29.9 m 
Public Safety Income Tax fund (from County's take of PST) -- $20.6 m
These funds are then the sources of money that go into each departmental budget.  The grand total of income tax revenues for the City-County in 2011 comes to $218 million.  Surely the Library is important enough to the powers that be, regardless of party, to send less than 1% of the income tax revenue to help make Indianapolis a great place to live.
But, somehow I expect there will be more slight of hand trying to explain why COIT, LOIT, and PST cannot be shared with the Library than prestidigitation in making it happen.

Monday, June 20, 2011

WRTV Takes Look at Broad Ripple Garage

Kara Kenney, WRTV reporter, did a very good job summarizing the issues revolving around the proposed garage to be built in Broad Ripple with $6.4 million of public money.

I'd embed the video, if it were possible.  Print version of report - click here.   Video version of report - click here. Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana and Zach Adamson, candidate for City-County Council, were both interviewed, among others.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day !

Happy Father's Day to all you Dads out there.  Hope you have a fantabulous day with your kids !

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Are Taxpayer Dollars Being Flagrantly Misused?

Yesterday I posted about the announced Broad Ripple parking garage and some tidbits I had gathered by simply going through government public records.

One document was the Request For Qualifications that was posted by the Ballard administration to solicit proposals for a parking structure in this area.  It specifically asked respondents to include construction cost estimates and operational expense estimates in their proposals.  Since this was not included in the winning group's proposal that I received from the City, I inquired after those numbers.  My request was denied with the citation of an Indiana State statute that trade secrets may be held from public disclosure laws.  I will, of course, take this up with the Indiana Public Access Counselor's office later this morning.

But, for now, I would like to share with you some conclusions of a 2007 study by Walker Parking Consultants analysing the adequacy of parking in the Broad Ripple Village area.  Walker Parking Consultants, along with Newpoint Parking, Keystone Construction, and RATIO Architects, formed the partnership that won the City's approval to build a 350 parking space garage with retail and a police substation at 6280-6286 N. College Avenue.

In the 2007 study, Walker Parking Consultants employed their 'trade secrets' to analyze the parking supply,  estimate cost of construction, estimate cost of operation, estimate costs to park, and locate where a new parking facility would be best suited to the needs of the area.  These are what I'd like to share with you today.

PARKING SUPPLY - the study concluded that of the 40 blocks of Broad Ripple Village, parking was adequate for almost all areas, at most times of the day, night, and week, in 2007 and as projected into the future.  There were 16 blocks that were shown to exceed 85% capacity at 11 pm on weekends.  A particular 6 block area was calculated to have a deficit of 132 parking spaces at 11 pm on weekends (adequate at all other times) and projected to have a deficit of 180 parking spaces at 11 pm on weekends in the future.

COST OF CONSTRUCTION -  the study noted the rising cost of concrete and cost of construction of parking garages over the previous 4 years, rising about 17% over that time span.  They concluded that it would cost $4.5 million to construct a 4 story, 300 space, parking garage.  They note that additional spaces would cost $21,878 per space.  Using that figure, a 350 space garage would come to $5.6 million - not including acquisition of land or demolition costs.

COST OF OPERATION - They concluded that it would cost between $450 and $600 per space, per year, to operate a garage in the Broad Ripple area.  Combining these figures with the construction costs, the study conclude that the enterprise would break even with a parking fee of $5 per car.

BEST LOCATION - the study found two 'best sites' - the one selected by Mayor Ballard's administration in the last few days, and one two blocks to the east, behind the Vogue.  They rejected the College/Westfield corner as requiring visitors to cross busy College Avenue to actually get to the venues of Broad Ripple, and concentrated on the area behind the Vogue.

So, fast forward to today.  We have a project which is being awarded $6.4 million dollars from the City to help fund what we are told will be a 350 space garage with retail and a police substation costing $15 million.  Unfortunately, the City has decided to keep the costs analysis to itself, so we cannot review it for adequacy.  What we can do is look at numbers that are available to the paying public.  Land is assessed at market values in Indiana now, so we should be able to rely somewhat upon assessed values for the cost of property.  The Assessor's records show that one of the two parcels needed for the proposed garage is owned by a group named 6286, LLC, c/o J. Todd Morris.  A Todd Morris is noted in the Keystone Group's proposal as the Parking Manager for group member Newpoint Parking.  The AV of that parcel is $106,100.  The property at 6280 N. College has an AV of $999,600, bringing the total AV to $1,105,700. 

Say the cost of a new garage rose another 17% in the four years since the 2007 study, even though we are in a recession -- that would bring the cost of construction to $6.5 million.  Total cost with land acquisition and construction, but without demolition, of $7.6 million -- very much in line with the cost to construct the Ivy Tech Multimodal Parking Garage/Library/Retail structure that was used in the Keystone Group's proposal to show expertise.

Instead we are supposed to accept, without documentation, the need to spend $15 million - $6.4 million, or 42%, to come from City funds.

Are taxpayer dollars being flagrantly misused?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tidbits on the Proposed Broad Ripple Garage Project

The announcement of the use of a third of the up front money collected by the City from the sale of the parking meter system to fund a garage in Broad Ripple set me to inquiring for the details.

Other blogs have pointed out the cozy relationship between the Ballard administration and Ballard re-election campaign finance with Keystone Construction as well as the seeming inability of this administration to craft a plan that makes any economic sense for taxpayers.  Well noted and what has become two of the trademarks of all deals made by this administration.  I send you to Ogden On Politics ("Taxpayers Pay to Build Broad Ripple Parking Garage; Garage and Revenue to Be Given Away") and Advance Indiana ("Big Ballard Campaign Contributor Scores Big With Broad Ripple Parking Garage Deal").

I've been poking on some public documents to try to ferret out details of the proposal.  Mayor Ballard's press release can be found online here.  I have uploaded the RFQ and the winning 'Statement of Qualifications' on Googledocs.  You must have a google account to access it.  If you prefer, drop me an email ( and I'll forward either to you.

Here are some tidbits.

The group that won the deal is composed of Keystone Group, LLC, Keystone Construction Corp., Newpoint Parking, Walker Parking Consultants/Engineers, Inc., and RATIO Architects.

The RFQ (Request for Qualifications) put out by the City to solicit proposals, asked that responses be sent to the Bond Bank.  Why the Bond Bank has taken on a prominent role in this administration is beyond me.  Now, to have them acting as the pivot point in dishing out proceeds of the parking meter deal is an even further stretch of all reasoning.  Regular readers of this blog know well my love affair with Deron Kintner (that's sarcasm for new readers), who is the Executive Director of the Bond Bank.

More humorous than anything else, the RFQ states "Responses (without attachments) should not exceed 20 pages in length."  The winning proposal was 33 pages.

The winning proposal proposed two locations and two options for what turned out to be the winning location.  These two alternatives were: Option 1-- for 308 parking spaces plus retail space on the first floor at a total cost of $12 million with the City funding $5.2 million.   Option 2 -- for 428 spaces plus retail space on the first floor at a total cost of $13.5 million with the City funding $6.4 million.  The final deal was for 350 parking spaces with retail space and a police substation at a total cost of $15 million with the City funding $6.4 million.

The location would be at 6280 and 6286 N. College Avenue (the southwest corner of the intersection of College and Westfield/Broad Ripple).  The current owner of 6280 is Marathon Ashland Petroleum, LLC, and is the site of a closed gas station.  The assessed value of this parcel jumped from $392,400 in 2009 to $888,900 in 2010 - I have no idea why, especially given its inactive state.  The current owner of 6286 is 6286, LLC, c/o J. Todd Morris.  Now, the winning proposal happens to list a Todd Morris as the Parking Manager for Newpoint Parking.  The Assessor's website states that the ownerships are current as of July 19, 2010.  The assessed value of this parcel rose from $76,600 in 2009 to $106,100 in 2010 - not nearly as dramatic as the other parcel.

The zoning is in place to accommodate a parking garage.  I have no information regarding the need or lack of need for any environmental remediation given that a gas station was on the largest part of the property.

Included in the winning proposal was a series of prior and current projects undertaken by the principals to show their expertise in such endeavours.  Included were two mixed use projects that were reminiscent of this project.  One was the Ivy Tech Multimodal Parking Garage/Library/Retail project that has 4 levels with 500 parking spaces as well as Library and retail space.  The price tag was $7 million.  The other was the Duke University Parking Garage IX (LEED) project that has 7 levels with 1917 parking spaces as well as Library and retail space, all being LEED certified.  The price tag was $35 million.  For some reason, the winning proposal of three to four levels with 350 parking spaces as well as police substation and retail space will cost $15 million.  I don't get it.  That seems like twice the cost at least.

We'll keep digging for details, for sure.  But, let's not forget the big picture.  The Ballard administration is saying that there is an urgent need for parking in the Broad Ripple area.  So, if there is such a need, why can't the private sector underwrite the entire cost?  Why do the taxpayers have to cover almost half the cost but get none of the proceeds?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Going For Broke - The Ballard Paradigm?

We all either know people who have done this, or are people who have done this.  People who bought more house than they could afford.  People who cranked their credit cards up to the max and then went out and got more credit cards.  People who, since the economic downturn, have felt the full force of debt on their shoulders.

The Ballard administration has all the markings of such folks.  But, they also appear not to care to alter their ways in face of the new economic realities.

They have sold assets that could have been a source of revenue for generations to come.  They have made sweetheart deals with well connected developers and companies where few of the plans' details work to the benefit of the public and the taxpayers.  They cursed the previous administration, then outdid it in debt creation.

Now, they are proposing four new TIF districts - with few details yet known.  They are only saying that these areas were chosen because they may be future transportation hubs.  They are proposing to extend the biotech corridor further west on 16th Street and turn old Bush Stadium into apartments - again few details yet known.  The City has been busy trying to woo neighbors onto their bandwagon.

It is possible that these projects are beneficial and should receive wide support.  But, given the Ballard administration's proclivity for withholding pertinent financial details from the Council, the MDC, and the public and given their seeming inability to craft deals that actually benefit the public, a wise approach is to wait and see what the details really are.

How big a catchment area will be needed for each TIF district?  What types of projects will be funded?  What other collateral will be needed besides future tax revenues to underpin any bonds?  Who will the developer be?  Are they campaign donors or well connected individual firms?  Why can't they fund their projects without public subsidies?  How will any projects act as catalysts for future, private, investment?  How many city services will be required for the new development areas and how will those extra expenses be paid for?  Will the creation of the TIF district include language limiting its future uses and set a date certain by which the TIF will be retired?  Could the City craft a TIF district whereby only City/County taxes are redirected and where ALL future taxes that normally would flow to schools and township government continue to do so?

And, last but not least --  How much debt is going to be generated?  How much debt do we already have in Marion County? 

I can tell you that every neighborhood in Marion County feels that they have been left behind.  One would assume that, should these areas actually become future transportation hubs, that change alone would spur private development without the prior assistance of public dollars. 

But, all in all, as we have see time and time again with this administration - the devil is in the details.  Details that they do not want to disclose yet.  So, we will wait and as firm information is available, it will be discussed in this blog and hopefully all across Marion County.