Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Gas Tax "Windfall" - Not What the Mayor Makes it Out to Be

Here's how it looked back on August 14, 2013, when IBJ reporter Kathleen McLaughlin penned an article about Mayor Greg Ballard's proposal to float a bond to add revenue to the nearly depleted RebuildIndy fund:
City officials said Thursday that they intend to spend $350 million over the next three years to improve streets, sidewalks, trails and bridges.
Most of that money will come from existing funds, but $135 million will be borrowed against increased state transportation funding.
...The city expects its share of state gas tax revenue to increase by $7 million, and will leverage that into the bond issue.
The increase in gas tax revenue sent to the City from the State was refined to $7.8 million.  That's were it stood on August 29, when the Public Works Committee of the City-County Council rejected Proposal 250.  I noted in a blog entry the next day that the Mayor's statements to the press were far from the truth.

Well, add one more lie to the list.

I received the real gas tax revenue numbers from the State Auditor's office.  The estimated 2013 distribution of the "Motor Vehicle Highway" revenue to the City of Indianapolis and the County of Marion is $20.25 million.  The estimated 2014 distribution is $23.75 million.  That is a difference of $3.5 million.  Less than half of the $7.8 million the Mayor, Bond Bank Director/Deputy Mayor Deron Kintner, and DPW Director Lori Miser have been touting as the windfall that will pay for the bond.

I added the color highlights to better direct attention to the figures applicable to the City and County

As I noted earlier, the Proposal actually called for annual payments of $9 million on the bond.  So, given that the real gas tax revenue increase is a paltry (by comparison) $3.5 million - they had plans to tap $5.5 million every year for 30 years of money that is usually needed for other things in DPW.  That's not only taking the next generation's increased gas tax, its also trading existing services that by rights should remain in place for the next 3 decades.

There still remains the $240 million of revenue that is already earmarked for road and sidewalk repair over the next 3 years - and that is no small amount of money.

But, to hear Greg Ballard tell it, if the Council does not allow the City to float this additional bond, there will be no infrastructure improvements at all.  That's the story he and his administration are repeating to the media, to the neighborhoods, and to the Council.  It is all a pack of lies.  Mayor Ballard even went so far as to accost Democrat At-Large Councillor Zach Adamson at the Hob Nob with "We're going to murder you guys on this.  You're dead."

They must think they have a lock on the press, a lock on what information gets to the neighborhoods, and a lock on the facts as they prefer to make them out to be.  They must think we are all stupid.

As more of the truth comes out, and it will, I am increasingly grateful to the members of the Public Works committee who voted against this fiscally unsound and cynically presented Proposal to float these bonds - Councillors Vernon Brown, Pam Hickman, Bill Oliver, Monroe Gray, and Zach Adamson.


Anonymous said...

His Honor hasn't been truthful in anything since he was elected. If he was Pinocchio his nose would be in Lake County by now.

What is the old saying, "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." (Joesph Goebbels)

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