Saturday, July 23, 2011

Excellent !

Rarely do I read an article in the IBJ about TIF Districts and say to myself, "Excellent" !

Well, that's not entirely true.  I never have.  Until today.

IBJ reporter, Francesca Jarosz, reports in today's edition, that City officials are looking at creating rules to return excess TIF funds back to the base taxing units, like the Library and schools.  If you don't have a subscription to the IBJ, you might be able to track them down at your local Library branch.  IBJ has become a must read for me.

In her article "Indianapolis eyes TIF surplus to shore up city coffers", Jarosz reports:
The city is considering ways to channel money captured for economic development in some of its 22 tax-increment-financing districts to units such as libraries and city-county government.

City financial officials and consultants are evaluating whether they can afford to shift some of the property taxes within the TIF districts back to the general tax base. They must make a determination by the end of this month.

City-County Council leaders also plan in the next month to start a public discussion on how to craft guidelines for using TIF in ways that maximize revenue for basic city services.

Jarosz even quotes Ryan Vaughn, President of the City-Council, as saying:
“We have property-tax caps in place now and reduced income-tax revenues,” said Ryan Vaughn, the council’s Republican president. “We have to start releasing some of the money back to the base when the district starts to over-perform.”
Excellent !

Jarosz also reached out to experts outside of Indiana:
“If you’re diverting that much money, it’s going to have an impact on the budget,” said Thomas Cafcas, a researcher with Washington, D.C.-based Good Jobs First, which advocates making communities more accountable for economic development incentives. “If money is just sitting there, it should be returned rightfully to other taxing jurisdictions.”

Gonna hafta Google Cafcas....

But, what can I say, except, Excellent !  Bring on that community conversation !

Excellent !!!!!!!


Gary R. Welsh said...

So what happened to all of the legal expert opinions that kept telling us the City's hands were tied on how those TIF funds could be used? I think they're only changing their tune now because they're desparate to avoid raising taxes in an election year. Still, it's better than letting the funds sit there and be accessed by the mayor on demand as a slush fund to provide kickbacks to his campaign contributors for their preferred development projects.

Paul K. Ogden said...


Aren't you assuming that this TIF money is going to be dumped back in the big revenue pot and the normal appropriation rate followed? Isn't it possible they'll spend the TIF money directly bypassing the council?

Had Enough Indy? said...

Gary - The City could always return money to the base by raising the value of the base or paying off the bonds early. They just didn't want to discuss options in case it derailed the plans they were pushing at the moment.

The article mentions a couple of items that might be getting some discussion - 10 to 20 year bonds depending upon the project, returning excess funds to the base, capping the amount of excess funds that can be generated before money MUST be returned to the base, and more.

I'm with you - let's do better with the money from TIFs and decide as a community what is best for us - not the fat cats.

Had Enough Indy? said...

Paul - I am assuming nothing here. The devil is always in the details. But, I think a community conversation is appropriate and about time.

I don't know what tension might exist between the Council and the Ballard administration. Deron Kintner, executive director of the bond bank, had some wishy washy statements about having enough cash sitting in the TIF districts to get better interest rates on bonds. He clearly did not endorse sending money back to the other taxing units.

And, I don't know if the MDC answers to the Council and if the Council has authority to pass an ordinance dictating what the administration and MDC can and cannot do. The Council can always vote down all bonds that come through until others see things their way. But, again, they could all be on the same page now - the article didn't really mention that.

More to come. But, at least the door has been opened.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Pat, I meant normal appropriation "process", not "rate." I think you figured that out.

Central Indiana Jobs with Justice said...

Definitely about time for some community dialogue. A Step in the right direction!