Wednesday, December 8, 2010

David Baird Steps Up for Wayne Township Residents

IndyStar reporter, Jon Murray, has an article in today's paper about the proposal for Wayne Township to put $200,000 into the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library's hands, in exchange for keeping the Wayne Township branches open more hours.

Murray frames it this way:

No one disputes the Wayne Township trustee's heart is in the right place with his plan to spend about $200,000 to restore longer hours at four nearby library branches.

But some state lawmakers view the proposal as another example of township excess. And it comes as the General Assembly is gearing up for more debate about reforming local government.

David Baird, who leaves office after this month, said he saw an opportunity to help residents who rely on the ailing Indianapolis library system by tapping the township's rainy-day fund.

While proponents of eliminating Township Government see this as an argument in their favor, I have to say, I see it as simply doing the right thing.

As Baird explains it in Murray's piece:

Baird, a Democrat, says his plan fits within the township's statutory mission of poor relief. The heavily used libraries provide computers and other resources for job-seekers and safe havens for children, and he says residents are reeling from cutbacks in operating hours across nearly all of the library system's branches in October.

"I'm not robbing Peter to pay Paul," Baird said. "It's just very vital that people need to understand that we've got serious unemployment and a lack of resources in Wayne Township."

And, Baird says that the money is actually extra:

But in this case, Baird said, he is tapping a $3.5 million rainy-day fund that was stocked specifically to replace an aging fire station. More county income taxes came in than expected, he said, leaving more than enough for the fire station.

David Baird is stepping up for the residents of his Township, because Mayor Ballard and the City-County Council failed to be champions for all of Indy's residents. See my post "Muni Corps Committee To Move Forward on CIB, Library, and IndyGo Budgets" for more detail, but the short story is that during the budget hearings, the Library asked for a $1.8 million shortfall appeal, which would have replaced taxes that were expected, but never collected, due to the lagging property value assessments that we went through for a couple of years. The Council and Mayor ended up raiding $1 million from the Ameriplex TIF, leaving it with little resources, and cutting the Library budget by $800,000.

Mayor Ballard had numerous options presented to him all year long. But, his priorities were demonstrated time after time after time. And, his priorities do not include quality of life improvements for Indy's residents; no priority for Parks, no priority for Libraries, no priority for public transportation.

For example - the Ballard Administration pulled in $5 million of the $35 million owed, from a clawback provision of Navistar abatement agreements (see "Abatements - Scary Loopholes Need Closing"). Instead of using that money for necessities, Ballard sent the money on to the IEDI and the ICVA. The IEDI funds the Mayor's trips abroad, by the way. This was more than ample funds to plug the leak that everyone saw coming in the Library budget, and could have been used to supplement Parks funds.

Another example - the Ballard Administration adamantly took the position that the nearly $100 million in excess funds held in the consolidated downtown TIF could not possibly be tapped to help the Library. But, somehow, the Ameriplex TIF could be. The very same mechanism that 'laundered' the Ameriplex TIF funds, could have been applied to the consolidated downtown TIF funds, and the full $1.8 million, perhaps more, could have been provided to the Library. Let us not forget, that only days before, Mayor Ballard engineered the use of consolidated downtown TIF funds to provide the Pacers organization with an ongoing $8 million per year from the property taxes held by that fund.

And, a last example - the Ballard Administration could have simply said, "Okay, just this one time", to the Library's request for a shortfall appeal. They approved IndyGo's request to file a shortfall appeal for $1.5 million.

So, back to David Baird. At least somebody in this City is stepping up to do the right thing. Kudos to Baird for finding a way to keep services available to his Township's citizens.


Paul K. Ogden said...

Of course David King Baird has a long history of doing the WRONG thing as documented in at least two stories regarding financial mismanagement of the Wayne Township Trustee's office. It's good he's seen the light and is doing the right thing..

Paul K. Ogden said...

Though...I hate to point this out, are we sure it's legal for him to do this?

Anonymous said...

Baird said. "It's just very vital that people need to understand that we've got serious unemployment and a lack of resources in Wayne Township."

He had no worry about any "lack of resources" in Wayne Township when he was lavishing salaries and perks (including pricey motel rooms downtown) on his romantic interests, friends and relatives. His self-aggrandizing antics would be laughable if he wasn't responsible for poor relief. His offer to help the library likely has something in it for him now or in the near future. As a Wayne Twp resident, I am counting the days until this Chicago style scam artist returns his office to the people.

Anonymous said...

It took him four years to step "up for Wayne Township residents."

Had Enough Indy? said...

I understand what you all are saying. I certainly don't agree with nepotism and think that there should be stronger laws that apply to all segments of government in Indiana.

But, my point here, is that the expenditure for keeping the library doors open longer in Wayne Township are a benefit to the community - and that is worth noting as a positive for Baird.