Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Principles Matter - But, Evidently, That's Negotiable

Some power brokers in the Republican Party and some power brokers in the Democratic Party only care about how much money flows their way.  To them, there is no 'enough'. 

There is no 'enough' just because your parks aren't kept up.  There is no 'enough' just because there are too few police and the City can't afford to give them contractual raises.  There is no 'enough' just because all the sellable public assets have been sold. There is no 'enough' just because good public servants are being laid off so that well-connected organizations can get more lucrative contracts to do their jobs - and poorly at that.

There is no 'enough' as long as the City can cash in future generations' welfare for more dollars today.   There is no 'enough' as long as there are more square miles that can be turned into TIF slush funds.  There is no 'enough' as long as the City can gain, even if that gain causes an equal loss to Township Schools.  There is certainly no 'enough' as long as taxes can be raised.

Jon Murray, IndyStar city hall beat reporter, wrote an article that was posted last night online and delivered to subscribers on paper today, that clearly shows how little residents and taxpayers mean to some of those elected to serve the public - not elected to serve themselves and their money backers.  Paul Ogden, over at OgdenOnPolitics, commented on the story last night.

Murray reports on negotiations between Council President Maggie Lewis and Mayor Ryan Vaughn.  These negotiations are about eliminating the local homestead credit and expanding the old IPD taxing district.  He says of those two 'tax changes':
The combined upshot would include a tax cut for central parts of the city, higher taxes for outlying areas and a hit to township school districts’budgets. 
Council President Maggie Lewis, a Democrat, said the Republican administration was holding firm on the tax proposals but has been open to discussing options that include tapping into utility sale proceeds and unused money from tax-increment financing districts.
That could soften the blow of the tax changes by paying for council Democrats’ priorities, she said.
Its not about softening the blow to taxpayers.  The power brokers behind Lewis want those taxes raised - the more the merrier.  Schools be damned, taxpayers be damned - keep the tide of cash flowing ever greater.  Lewis is actually trying to find MORE money to spend to 'justify' voting for raising taxes.  If she cared about the public interest, she'd be negotiating to supplant some or all of the tax hikes with money in the $80 million 'fiscal stabilization fund' that was created with the utility sales money.  But, no, its all about ever more money for the power brokers and the well connected developers and the campaign contributors.

Lewis and Vaughn are just trying to soften the blowback on Councillors who vote for these tax increases.  They are trying to come up with a one-year token infusion of extra money into the budget to somehow bedazzle the public with a forever-year increase in taxes and hit to Township Schools' budgets.

Lewis' branch of the County Democrat Party is as corrupt as Vaughn's branch of the County Republican Party.  And all they want is more access to your purse so their 'friends' can broker more bond sales, lobby for more deals for their clients, land more contracts, and turn their campaign contributions into more tenfold taxpayer handouts.

There still are Councillors who act on principle and for the public good - a couple, all of the time - some, only 'negotiating' that principle away from time to time.   It is up to these Councillors how the City will move forward.


Anonymous said...

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the point of TIF to finance infrastructure within the district? How can there be "unused" money?

Had Enough Indy? said...

They must be looking at the downtown TIF - its the only really healthy one. That TIF takes in more money than they need for the bond payments. They can let the money pile up, fund small pay as you go projects, or pass it through to the schools etc. The City took $40 m just year before last from that TIF's fund balance to balance the City budget.

They will find some reason that the money is being spent in the TIF district, even though it bends logic to the breaking point.

Greg Purvis said...

There are many articles that criticize overuse of TIFs, it is not unique to Indy. Here is one for example:

Fishers for example has turned virtually all commercially-usable land into TIF districts. The problem is, if you borrow against the improvements added value, it does not add to the tax base until the borrowed funds are repaid. This can have negative effects on other units, notably schools, which rely on the same tax base.

And both parties get stupid about such things.

Had Enough Indy? said...

Thanks Greg, for the link and comment. I'd modify one point slightly - both parties choose to be stupid about such things. After the TIF Study Commission findings, they cannot claim that they did not know.

Jon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jon said...

Like everything else in this town follow the money. Given sufficient dollars our elected and appointed officials will formulate a path that provides them with the greatest amount of lucre.