Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thank Goodness Jon Murray Is Back

Jon Murray, City Hall beat reporter for the Indy Star, is back from vacation.  And, its about time, I tell you.  Now we can get some real information about what's going on behind the scenes with the budget.

I've not been able to post about the last couple of night's meetings, and will catch up with that after I tell you what Murray is reporting about tonight's important CIB budget meeting.

The Democrats haven't collapsed after all - as seemed at last night's Public Safety committee meeting.  They are still eyeballing the CIB for payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT), and in addition, are lusting after some of the $80 million Rebuild Indy stabilization fund.

Murray reports:
Already, moves by the council — including a successful bid by a committee Tuesday, with help from Republicans, to save a property tax credit targeted for elimination — have rattled the Ballard administration.

Thursday, another committee could vote to extract a $10 million to $15 million payment from the city’s sports and convention board.

Council Democrats’ aim: to sock away money to help pay for recruit classes of 50 police officers and 30 firefighters next year as the city contends with declining ranks.

The latest estimates pin the cost at $4.2 million for the police officers and $500,000 for the firefighters. (The Indianapolis Fire Department is seeking a federal grant to cover most of its cost.)
Council President Maggie Lewis said that besides the CIB payment, Democrats also are eying about $13 million that remains in the city’s rainy day fund, as well as a stabilization fund that contains $80 million. Ballard created that fund last year using money from the utilities sale to help maintain the city’s AAA credit rating.
The image that has been developing in my head is one of a leaky boat with a captain who is using the spare wood to build a tiki bar.  That kind of sums up what I see the Ballard administration doing by creating TIFs to capture known private investment (aka Mass Ave TIF) instead of letting the coming property taxes flow to the schools and city alike, by not sunsetting TIFs, by the airport holding on to land that should be turned over to the tax rolls.  I think Ballard/Vaughn's game plan is to allow deterioration of police and  fire numbers in order to get the public to back new taxes.

I was disheartened after last night's budget amendments didn't contain any contractual raises for IFD and IMPD, nor funding for any recruit classes either.  While Murray doesn't note the raises, at least he let us know that the Democrats leading the Council are all for keeping the IFD and IMPD head counts from dropping further.

The CIB budget hearing will be held in room 107 of the city-county building, beginning at 5:30.  The DPW budget will be discussed at the same time in room 260.

Now, if we can only talk Murray into coordinating his time off with slow need-to-know news weeks....

No comments: