Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Full Council To Meet Thursday - Mayor's Veto of Budget & Parking Ticket Maximums To Be Considered

City-County Council President, Maggie Lewis, has called a special meeting of the Council for this Thursday, November 1, at 6:30 pm.  November 1 is the last day that the any unit of government can pass a budget, set a property tax levy (amount of money to be raised from property taxes), and set a property tax rate.

The Mayors used the line-item veto in a number of sections of the budget ordinance passed by the Council on October 15, by a vote of 18-11.  Of course, Mayors Vaughn and Ballard have not chosen to line item veto anything that would interfere with their collection of property taxes from the good citizens and property owners of Indy.  Nor have they interfered with their ability to discharge about $100 m in property tax revenues collected in TIF districts.  Nor have they scaled back the obscene raises for favored folks in the Administration, including Vaughn himself.

No, they used the line item veto to keel haul the Council for its audacity in actually passing a balanced budget stained with the sin of it not being the Mayor's budget.  So, the Mayors have deliberately cut revenues without cutting spending - creating an actual unbalanced budget.  They want the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance to name the places where the hatchet shall land.

The Mayors line item vetoed all $652,654 for character 3 expenses of the Council office.  They vetoed the $31,767,652 allocation of County Option Income Taxes to the County General fund.  They eliminated the creation of the special fund for recruit classes and officer training.  And, they eliminated the allocation to the rainy day funds of any unanticipated additional revenue that might come in during 2013.

As President Lewis notes in her letter to the Council:
In light of the Mayor’s recent veto of separate items of the budget, specifically the appropriation to the Character 03 portion of the 2013 City-County Council Budget, the following responsibilities of the Council will be affected:
*Payment to the General Counsel to the Council;
*Payment to the Minority Counsel;
*Payment to ISA for computer and telephone services;
*Payment of other Information Technology;
*Payment for legal advertising and notices of Council and committee meetings, fiscal ordinances,
and other special Council-related business;
*Payment for copying and printing services provided for any correspondence to Councillors, City-
County Administration and agencies, constituents, media, etc.;
*Payment of office lease at the City-County building and other related charges;
*Payment of code book subscription to update city ordinances and make available to the public;
*Payment of Councillor conference expenses; and
*Payment of any other contacts and services as deemed necessary by the Council
Elimination of the funding for this Character is in direct violation of IC 36-3-4-8.5. Consequently, as Council President, I have determined that a special full Council meeting will be held on Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 6:30 pm in the Council Chambers. The purpose of this meeting is to override the Mayor’s veto so that the Council may conduct the business of the people and serve its constituents beginning January 1 of 2013.
Please note that the other items included in the veto will appear on the agenda as well. However, each item will be voted on individually and to the discretion of each Council member. Thank you.

IC 36-3-4-8.5 says:
IC 36-3-4-8.5
Employment of attorneys or legal research assistants
Sec. 8.5. (a) A clerk may hire or contract with competent attorneys or legal research assistants on terms the clerk considers appropriate.
(b) Appropriations for the salaries of attorneys and legal research assistants employed under this section shall be approved in the annual budget.
The referenced clerk is the Clerk of the City-County Council.

In an earlier press release, Lewis noted that the Mayor does not have legal authority to veto any component of the budget of any Constitutionally established office (see Advance Indiana's blog entry "Ballard Budget Veto Gives New Meaning To 'Its My Way or the Highway'")   IC 36-3-4-14(b)(1) says:
 (b) All ordinances and resolutions of a legislative body are subject to veto, except the following:
(1) An ordinance or resolution, or part of either, providing for the budget or appropriating money for an office or officer of the county provided for by the Constitution of Indiana or for a judicial office or officer.
Article 6, Section 2, of the Indiana State Constitution says:
Section 2. (a) There shall be elected, in each county by the voters thereof, at the time of holding general elections, a Clerk of the Circuit Court, Auditor, Recorder, Treasurer, Sheriff, Coroner, and Surveyor, who shall, severally, hold their offices for four years.
Article 7, Section 16 says:
Section 16. Prosecuting Attorneys. There shall be elected in each judicial circuit by the voters thereof a prosecuting attorney, who shall have been admitted to the practice of law in this State before his election, who shall hold his office for four years, and whose term of office shall begin on the first day of January next succeeding his election. The election of prosecuting attorneys under this section shall be held at the time of holding the general election in the year 1974 and each four years thereafter.
That leaves all $31.7 million of the vindictive cuts made by our Mayors line item vetoes to fall on the budgets of  the following offices - each office is followed by the amount of money originally budgeted to come from the County General fund targeted by the Mayors, which is followed in parentheses by the total budget for that office:
Public Defender $17.6 m ($18.0 m)
Community Corrections $3.4 m ($9.5 m)
Forensic Services $5.9 m ($6.9 m)
Cooperative Extension $0.8 m ($0.8 m)
Assessor $5.2 m ($7.4 m)
Election Board $1.3 m ($1.3 m)
Voters' Registration $1.1 m ($1.1 m)
aggregate $35.3 m from the County General fund and a total budget of 45.0 m
Curiously enough, it is not clear what the elimination of allocation of any excess funds would really do.  The money must reside somewhere in the City-County coffers in some fund or another.  Likely the point was to keep the $15 m PILOT from the CIB from the City's rainy day fund specifically.  Still, the Council had not appropriated any of that money anyway.  So, I surely can't see any logic in scratching this line out.  But, vindictiveness knows only its own logic.

Also on the agenda for November 1, is Prop 315, which was vetoed entirely by the Mayors.   This proposal would allow for only one parking ticket per violation per day and alter the process for requesting a hearing on any particular ticket received.  The Council voted 18 -11 to pass this proposal at the October 15 meeting of the Council - with all Democrats plus Republicans Sandlin and Scales voting in favor and the remaining Republicans voting no.

The budget was voted on in two parts due to conflicts of interest by Lewis and Adams.  The Assessor's office budget passed by a vote of 25-2-2, with Republican Councillors Lutz and Sandlin casting the no votes and Lewis and Adams abstaining.  The remainder of the budget was passed by a vote of 18-11, with all Democrats plus Republicans Holliday and Scales voting for, and all of the rest of the Republicans voting no.

This budget process appears to be the energizer bunny of budget processes - it keeps going and going and going.  On November 1, 6:30 pm, public assembly room, city-county building, the Council will take up the issue of a veto override.

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