Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Muni Corps Committee Trims Airport Budget

As I mentioned in my last blog entry, this phase of the budget season is usually dry and boring.  What with split government this year, we are seeing an attempt by the Democrats to change Mayor Ballard's introduced budget in significant ways.  But, still I was expecting the Muni Corps committee meeting to be dry and perfunctory.  Figuring I'd save myself a needless trip and parking fee, I emailed Chairman Monroe Gray and asked if there were going to be any amendments introduced.  Yes, he thought Councillor Lutz would be putting forth something.

Councillor Bob Lutz is a Republican, so what's up?  Could he be fiddling with the Airport's budget?  The airport got an earful from the public and a polite note of disagreement from the Councillors when they presented their budget in committee last week.  A key spark was the fact that the Airport Board had just decided to begin an appeal of Judge Keele's ruling against them in their lawsuit that tried to stop a Fast Park facility from being built in Ameriplex.

Well, they got more than that this time.

Lutz offered an amendment to cut their budget by $100,000; the cost of the appeal.  In a $161 million budget, they won't be left wounded or anything.   Through this cut, the Council would be sending a message that the continuation of this lawsuit is frowned upon.

Lutz and Councillor Jason Holliday share the airport in their districts.  Lutz on the Wayne side and Holliday on the Decatur.

Between them they laid out some of the history of the airport/Ameriplex/Fast Park story that I had not heard discussed in public before.  And it is telling.  Both the developer and Ameriplex approached the airport as soon as they thought there might be a good match in locating a Fast Park facility within the industrial park.  They wouldn't go any further if the airport had a problem with it.  The airport didn't have a problem.  The Mayor's office didn't have a problem.

Fast forward to  when plans were coming to fruition.  Indy Park Ride & Fly - an off airport parking facility that moved out of Marion County and into Plainfield when the new terminal opened - had hired an attorney who went door to door in the abutting neighborhood.  That attorney is now representing the airport in its lawsuit.

Lets face it, this lawsuit doesn't have merit.  Never did.  The airport is simply using its deep pockets to make it too expensive and too prolonged for Fast Park and Ameriplex to continue.  They want to drive a legitimate business out of Decatur Township.  They don't want the competition.  This governmental entity wants to kill off competitors in a free market.

Long story short,  the committee voted 4-3 to amend the airport's budget by $100,000.  Voting with the Decatur community were Councillors Lutz, Holiday, Cardwell, and Mahern.  Voting against were Councillors Gray, Talley, and Osili.

They also voted to send it to the full Council with a do-pass recommendation.  I could see Gray vote no, but could not tell who else may have joined him.

This is an important vote for Decatur Township.  We overwhelmingly want the Fast Park to be built.  It is not your granddad's parking facility; rather it is so green that it can teach the airport a thing or two about being environmentally responsible.  It would be located outside the TIF and bring much needed tax dollars to our schools and help move us toward a more balanced tax base.  It will spark the development of much need commercial property that will benefit the community at large and help Ameriplex attract more high salary tenants to the Purdue Research Park.

I want to thank Councillors Bob Lutz, Jason Holliday, Jeff Cardwell, and Brian Mahern for standing up with us and standing up for us.  Your support means a lot to us.

For those who are interested, I've embedded that part of the committee meeting from the WCTY archives below - it runs almost half an hour:

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Paul K. Ogden said...

I'm not convinced the "green technology" is economically viable when it comes to the start up cost, but if a private company wants to try to make it work, more power to that company. That's what our economic system is all about...private companies determining what developments are profitable to them and pursuing those developments. Government shouldn't be involved in picking winners and losers and government certainly shouldn't be trying to stop private market competition to a government entity.

Had Enough Indy? said...

The green works for them in other locations. It begins with their commitment to being good stewards. Then they found a way to make it all work for them. Solar panels on top of carport type structures that protect the cars and reduce the heat island effect while simultaneously shielding the night sky from necessary lighting that hangs from the rooves of the carports, recycled rainwater, electric charging stations.

Thats one of the best things about the human race - where there's a will, there's a way.

I agree 100% with the rest of what had to say.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Lacy Johnson will remind the Democratic caucus how much money is personally at stake for him and then Lewis and the rest of the blacks on the council will fall into line and restore the money. Obviously, Gray, Talley and Osili have already gotten their cue from Johnson. That's another investigation that should be undertaken to force full disclosure of airport authority board member's financial interest in businesses doing business with various businesses so their conflicts of interest are transparent for all to see.

Had Enough Indy? said...

The airport is like the stealth slush fund. Excluding the construction of the new terminal (about $2 billion), they spend about $100 million on contractors (construction and other types) every year. Nobody is watching. The Mayor controls the board appointments and nothing happens at the airport without his approval.

It can be very good to be President of the Airport Authority Board, if you want it to be.

Rachel Matteson said...

The green propaganda may pose numerous benefits for the environment and the community at large. The airport already has lots of resources for its development. Now is the time to give back to the environment that sometimes has been taken for granted.