Thursday, January 17, 2013

Let's Recap Where We Are At This Moment - Or - How The Diversion of Tax Dollars For Special Interests Is Going

It just feels like a good time to recap where our City finances stand.  Let's face it, you simply have to follow the money if you want to know what the priorities really are.

For the first couple of years of the Great Recession, the City's funding actually went up.  Last year and this, resources shrunk slightly.  Contributing to that was the erroneous calculation of income tax receipts, which the State has corrected with a lump sum payback and which has been deposited into the rainy day fund to spend next year.

The amount of potential revenue caught in the tax caps is growing, causing an corresponding decrease in revenues that the City qualifies for, but cannot collect.  The growth in tax caps is being driven by the increase in the amount of property value being pushed into TIF districts.  TIF districts continue to struggle, on the whole, requiring bailouts, transfers, and increased taxes to cover debt payments.  The city has $80 million from RebuildIndy funds sitting in an account; its sole purpose to convince bond rating agencies that we have enough money to cover our debts, at least for one year.  Meanwhile, the airport tries to shake down bond holders of the United TIF deal to accept 10 cents on the dollar.

We see a City-County Council approve two TIFs last year - one for a burgeoning area seeing ever increasing private investment - growth that was the 'old fashioned way', through a free market.  We see a proposal for development of a very valuable, city-owned block, being granted to a group who wants the block for free, plus millions in taxpayer assistance; not to the group that asked for tax abatements, but who was actually willing to pay for the block.  This pulls tax revenue from all taxing units and causes a reduction in the services that can be provided for the common good.

We see a City-County Council ready to approve one new TIF, which covers some of the most affluent areas of the County, along with one area of actual need, to fund public art and park improvements as two of the named uses for tax funds.  BTW, they have the temerity to also complain about crime as they move to strip off tax dollars that would have gone to fund public safety.  This, too will pull much needed tax dollars away from the common good.  In fact, they will take more than $6 million of promised tax revenue from the Broad Ripple parking garage away from the common good to make life more fun for some of our toniest neighborhoods.

We see two new tax increases on the verge of being passed that will be split between the City and the CIB.  The State Legislature granted the ability to raise these taxes as the final step in the CIB bailout.  One might wonder, if the CIB doesn't need the money, why would you raise the taxes? 

We see the formation of a public safety task force whose sole purpose is to make a case for higher taxes - once the mass transit tax referendum passes out of the State Legislature.  As we pull more money from our resources that pay for the common good, crime will rise.  Fearful residents are more willing to support a tax increase to pay for police protection that the City could have afforded had our City Fathers and Mothers not diverted money into TIFs and stadiums.

We see yet another $10 million going to the Pacers and their billionaire owners, who already get all revenue from the facility we taxpayers built for them.  Another deal is likely already written, but which will be kept from the public until the tax increases are finalized.  Even the CIB gets tripped up simultaneously saying they have enough money to give more of it away and that they may have to declare bankruptcy.

We see heavy hints that the taxpayers will soon be asked to build one of the Mayor's biggest campaign contributors a $200 million soccer stadium.

What is clear is that we are moving money into accounts that pay for corporate welfare, payback for campaign contributors, and sports welfare.  We see accounts shrinking that pay for the public good - good parks, good schools, and public safety to name some.

That's what is happening folks.  Follow the money.  The priority is not the public; the very public that trusted these folks enough to vote for them.   The priority is not to make Indy a better place to live.  The priority is not the common good.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Notably, there is also the emergence of SafeIndy, a venture started by two IMPD cops. They're taking advantage of citizens' fear of crime and convincing neighborhoods to pay them (along with moonlighting IMPD cops and equipment)to provide extra protection for "subscribers". As funding for public safety declines, more of us will opt for this. Which will just encourage more diversion of public safety funds. How different is this from a mob "protection" scheme?