Monday, January 7, 2013

See Children? Extortion Works !

How do you get the Council Ds to agree to three tax increases, and to funneling money to City coffers from sources never intended to prop up the City budget?  Why you do exactly what Mayor Vaughn did - you slash funding for essential services not controlled by Republican office holders.

Of course, some Ds don't care if we raise taxes and funnel money that is intended for other uses, and some Rs just might privately disapprove.  Not that their vote will count.  Not that your voice and opinion in these matters will be of interest when the legally required hearings are held for show.

Here's what the press release has to say about the deal:
– Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard today announced an agreement with City-County Council President Maggie Lewis and the leadership of both caucuses on the framework of a long-term budget plan for the City. Pending approval by the full City-County Council, the agreement will result in the restoration of approximately $32 million in funding to county offices and cut the proposed budget deficit for 2014 to only $6 million.
According to the agreement:
  • The Mayor and Council agree to restore $32 million in County Option Income Tax (COIT) revenue to the County General Fund.
  • The Mayor and Council are committed to reducing 2013 operational spending by 5%.  The Mayor and Council will meet with agency directors and elected officials for individual budget reviews with the goal of introducing fiscal ordinances reducing 2013 appropriations accordingly in February.
  • The Capital Improvement Board (CIB) will pay the city $5 million for public safety in 2013. The money is currently budgeted for the cost of repairing the Capitol Commons Garage.  In exchange, the City, via the downtown TIF, will fund the cost of repairs.
  • The Mayor and Council will approve increases of 2% and 4% respectively in the car rental and admission taxes, effective March 1, 2013.
    • An amount equal to 100% of the revenue from the first year of the increase will be directed to public safety (approximately $6.7 million).
    • After the first year and beyond, an amount equal to 25% of revenue from this action (up to $3 million per year) will be directed to the City for public safety.
  • The Mayor and Council will form a bi-partisan commission to make a recommendation on the elimination of the Homestead Credit Subsidy as part of the 2014 budget. This action, if approved, would generate approximately $9 million in funding for the city.
  • The Mayor and leadership of both Council caucuses will hold monthly financial meetings.
  • The Mayor and Council will continue working toward the implementation of a Public Safety Foundation by the end of 2013.
These actions taken together will produce a $12 million annual increase in general fund revenue beginning in 2014, leave the City with a manageable $6 million gap between estimated spending versus revenues for 2014, and leave $42 million in operating reserves at the end of 2013.
Let's look at the details a bit.  The Council has agreed to raise the admissions tax and the car rental tax - both of which are being introduced tonight.  No sense voicing your opinion in these matters when they go to committee in mid-January.  The Councillors won't even be able to feign interest.  These tax increases were authorized by the State Legislature as part of the CIB bailout package.  However, the City is taking all of those revenues this year and 25% of all subsequent revenues from these increases in future years.  I will be interested in what legal maneuvering they use to launder the funds from the CIB to the City.  It would be a hoot if they use a PILOT.   Hope at least one Legislator is totally pissed at this turn of events.

The CIB is, through the looking glass, going to compensate the City for police and fire protection this year to the tune of $5 million.  In return, the City will use property tax revenues from the Downtown TIF to pay for the $5 million renovation that was going to be the responsibility of the CIB.  So, the Downtown TIF is really giving $5 million to the City.  Just as a reminder, that money is being kept from IPS, IndyGo, IMCPL, and Health & Hospitals.  Sorry children, travellers, readers and sick people.

But, on the bright side, the Mayor's office will start to talk with the Council leadership on a regular basis.  And, they agreed to study a tax increase in 2014 from the elimination of the Homestead Credit.  Surely the Council will stop thinking for itself and just present the Mayor with a rubber stamp instead of doing the people's work.  Surely they will not actually recommend the Homestead Credit continue in 2014.  Because if they don't eliminate it next year, Mayor Vaughn will just slash the County budgets again.

Yes Virginia, extortion works.


Citizen Kane said...

And yet no one is storming the gates - how sad.

Had Enough Indy? said...


Anonymous said...

Deja vue all over again, the headline in today's Star "Deal Boosts Public Safety". Didn't the 65% increase in COIT boost public safety? Didn't the feds providing funds to hire more police boost public safety? Didn't the state takeover of police and fire pensions arrears boost public safety?
The reality is that this new money can and will be spent wherever they feel like spending it. We have zero assurances that this money will aid public safety. In fact, based upon past performance by the city council and the mayor's office we can expect this money to be just more revenue dumped down the rat hole.

Had Enough Indy? said...

The Mayor's spokesman said that there was no guarantee that the new revenue would go to public safety. That's exactly how arrogant these people are.