Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Some Kumbaya at Last Night's Council Meeting - Some, Not So Much

The Council Voted 17 times last night, and all but 6 of those were unanimous.  IndyStar reporter, Jon Murray did a nice summary of some of the issues in one of his articles in today's Star.  By the by, it gets harder and harder to find local news stories on indystar.com, that you have seen in the print version.

Included in the unanimous votes were votes to
return to committee for further consideration the CIB agreement that would send money to the City from two tax increases recently approved by the Council.  The intent is for the committee to amend the proposal so that it specifies that public safety will be the actual beneficiary of these monies.
 postpone the public hearing for the zoning matter at 460 Virginia Avenue

strike the City Government anti-fraternization proposal

adopt the requirement that the Mayor's Office report to the Council on turnaround schools on a regular basis
 Not so unanimous were some curious and some important issues.

Two reappointments were expected to be handled by the Council as a whole, instead of being referred to committee, as is usual.  John Beaman's reappointment to the Common Construction Wage Committee for Center Township (Prop 91) and James Ochs appointment to the same group for Speedway (Prop 102) were the two people named.  Prop 91 was sent to committee by a vote of 20-9.  Voting no were Democrats Adamson, Barth, Brown, Hickman, Mansfield, Mascari, Oliver, Simpson, and Talley.  Prop 102 was sent to committee by a vote of 25-4.  Still voting no were Democrats Brown, Mascari, Simpson, and Talley.

Prop 58 was the refunding of $28.5 million of bonds with a bit of history.  In 1992 bonds were floated for the Circle Center Mall and are repaid with TIF money from the consolidated downtown TIF.  These 1992 bonds were broken up and the individual pieces refinanced at different times.  In 2002, a piece weighing in at $29.3 million was refinanced - and this is the subject of Prop 58.  Of that $29.3 million, less than $2 million in principle has been paid since 2002.  According to testimony before the MDC on March 11, even the bonds floated through Prop 58 would have a balloon payment, where the very last payment due in 2029 would be $24 million.  This course is being pursued, even given the fact that there are only 4 years left on the remaining the Circle Center bonds.  Five years from now, the money now spent on those bonds could be used to pre-pay, perhaps in full, any remaining amount on the 2002 bonds - OR - the downtown TIF could pay off all $27.5 million now owned.  That TIF easily generates an extra $20 million a year.  If paid off, we would be out from under the debt.  But, the City powers that be would rather we kept paying the bond issuers and the bond holders instead of realizing real savings from paying off the debt when possible.  The vote on Prop 58 was 26-3.  The three no votes were from Democrats Brown, Gray and Mahern.

Prop 33 was the proposal to spend $3 million of RebuildIndy funds on infrastructure in the Avondale-Meadows area, primarily to lure a grocery store.  You may recall that this proposal did not garner a majority either for or against back on February 11, when two Councillors were absent.  This time the proposal was defeated with a vote of 14 for and 15 against.   Voting for were Democrats Adamson, Barth, Brown, Gray, Hickman, Lewis, Mansfield, Mascari, Moriarty, Oliver, Osili, Robinson, Simpson and Talley.  Voting against were Democrat Mahern, former Democrat Evans, both of whom previously voted for prop 33, who joined Republicans Cain, Freeman, Gooden, Holliday, Hunter, Lutz, McHenry, McQuillen, Miller, Pfisterer, Sandlin, Scales, and Shreve.

While Prop 44, the turnaround school reporting proposal, passed unanimously, an amendment offered by Councillor Mahern did not.  It appears that the State Department of Education will send money to the Mayor's office to monitor turnaround schools, which are IPS schools taken from that Board as failing schools.  Initially, these turnaround schools were put under State guardianship and later transferred to the Mayor's guardianship.  Charter schools, which are established by the Mayor and attract students from traditional public schools, are expected by the State to pay management fees to the Mayor's Office for their oversight.  The Mayor has declined to require those fees, instead preferring to use general City money for the cost of Charter school oversight.  Mahern's amendment would require that any money sent to the Mayor's office to cover the cost of turnaround school oversight be distributed among those schools, so that Charter and turnaround schools are treated identically.  The proposed amendment failed by a vote of 3-26.  The three who voted in favor of the amendment were Democrats Brown, Mahern, and Oliver.

Prop 60 is the first of a two step process to grant a 10 year 100% abatement on $35 million worth of certain types of high tech equipment to be purchased by Exact Target.   In return, Exact Target agrees to create 500 jobs, retain 856 more, and tacitly agrees to stay in specified properties in downtown Indy.  Prop 82, introduced last night and which is the 2nd step of this process, has all the details.  In comments, Mahern stated that this type of economic incentive should be used to encourage companies to expand into areas of the City that are struggling, rather than simple use it to keep their expansions downtown, which is thriving.  Prop 60 passed with a vote of 25-3-1.  Democrat Brown did not vote.  Democrats Gray and Mahern joined Republican Lutz in voting against Prop 60.

1 comment:

Unigov said...

Whenever I read about a proposal like the one for ExactTarget, I imagine envelopes of cash trading hands behind the scenes.