It must also be said that it is the responsibility of the Councillors to have an understanding of TIF districts because so much that comes before the Council on economic matters has an interplay with TIF districts and visa versa. How do abatements within a TIF district affect the ability to pay the bonds underlying the district? How many poorly performing TIFs do we have and how does that affect the promises made when the TIF was set up - for instance the promise that all of the tax revenues flowing to the schools and fire departments and library and IndyGo will continue to flow after the TIF is set up (a promise more often broken than kept is my guess). How long should a TIF exist - should it be retired as soon as possible, or should it be used as a long lived slush fund?
There are plenty of questions we all should be asking. But, here is what Prop 70 would aim for as its core assortment of questions:
The Commission shall review and make recommendations on Indianapolis City-Marion County economic development policies and procedures related to TIF used in Marion County, including but not limited to, the following:
1) Policies and past practices used in Marion County for the establishment of TIF districts and projects therein;
2) Policies and past practices used in Marion County for the expenditure of TIF district funds and the issuance of debt backed by TIF district funds;3) Current Marion County TIF districts and associated fund balances, debt obligations and past expenditures;
4) Need for new methods to increase transparency of Marion County TIF districts’ funds and the expenditure of those funds, including the establishment of an online database of TIF districts’ funds and expenditures and periodic reporting of TIF districts’ financial data to the Indianapolis City Controller, Marion County Auditor, the Indianapolis-Marion County Council and taxing districts impacted by TIF;
5) Need for new methods to increase accountability, including the establishment of new performance standards in the establishment of TIF districts to ensure targeting of TIF districts to revitalize blighted areas of Marion County and job creation;
The study group would include:
6) Need for performance goals for private development that receives TIF and methods to provide consequences for the failure to achieve those goals.
7) Need for a comprehensive economic development plan to ensure the creation and development of TIF districts and projects therein in a coordinated fashion consistent with economic development goals of job creation and community revitalization;
8) Need for periodic review of established TIF districts and projects therein to ensure performance towards economic development goals
9) Impact of TIF districts on Marion County taxing districts that depend on property tax revenue and the need to mitigate negative impact to those taxing districts, including development of standards and methods to return excess TIF district funds to those units; and
10) Need to establish methods to dismantle TIF districts that are no longer needed and/or address projects therein that are not achieving economic development goals.
The Commission established for this purpose shall be composed of eight (8) members, as follows:
(1) the chair of the Council’s Metropolitan and Economic Development Committee, who will serve as chair of the commission;
(2) the chair of the Council’s Rules and Public Policy Committee;
(3) a member of the minority caucus of the Council, appointed by the Council president;
(4) the Indianapolis City Controller;
(5) the executive director of the Indianapolis Bond Bank;
(6) the Marion County Auditor;
(7) a member of the Metropolitan Development Commission, to be appointed by the Council president; and
Preliminary findings would be reported back to the Council by April 30.(8) a member of the Indiana General Assembly, to be appointed by the Council president.