Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Follow the Money

A long time ago now, the Marion County Alliance of Neighborhood Associations began following the City's annual budget based on one proposition.  That proposition is that our elected officials can say lots of things, spin lots of yarns, and try to influence public impressions, but they will always put money into the things they feel are priorities regardless of what they say.

Today we sit with news reports of yet more MILLIONS of dollars going to the Pacers and their billionaire owners - voted on by the CIB prior to public disclosure of the actual deal agreement(read Gary Welch's excellent piece on Advance Indiana for more). 

Our elected officials are prepping us for goodly increases in income taxes to provide more cops on the street - while saying violent crime is actually down, its just shooter's aim that has improved.

Our elected officials will be looking to eliminate the local homestead credit - the third time for this push.

Our elected officials will look for a calm moment within which they can place the mass transit referendum on the ballot to raise taxes even more - and you just know that the light rail boondoggle will somehow be included once again.

But, where do we actually stand?  What priorities has Mayor Ballard-Vaughn actually placed on his spending of tax dollars?

Below are two charts comparing the actual budget numbers for some City Departments and Municipal Corporations for 2014.

First is a comparison of several Municipal Corporations as well as the collective revenue from Marion County's TIF districts.  The total budget for all Muni Corps is nearly that of the entire City-County budget ($955 M vs $1.0 B).

You will notice that our elected officials value sports as much as they value the current IndyGo and public Library combined.  The slush fund that TIFs provide, of course, also rivals the basic public service spending that I thought City government was supposed to provide.

The chart below compares spending on different departments included in the City's annual budget.  The Fire numbers include the fire budgets for the three Townships that still operate their own departments in addition to IFD's budget.  The Parks budget number shown below also includes money Ballard has moved into DPW's budget.  DPW's budget number has the Parks money removed.

Elected officials give a little more priority to police and fire than they do sports, but not substantially more.  Parks has been gutted by this Mayor.  In fact, Ballard-Vaughn's proposed RebuildIndy 2 program would spend just about as much on painting bike lanes as he budgeted for all parks in 2014.

When an elected official talks to you about his or her priorities, ask them how they are really spending our money.

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