Monday, June 2, 2014

$3 Million of TIF Money (Taxpayer Money) Going To Enrich IndyStar

Resolution 2014-B-002 goes to the MDC for a vote Wednesday.

This resolution would float $5.5 Million in bonds as taxpayer investment in two projects - the "Pulliam Place" and "Millikan-On-Mass" projects.

The Pulliam Place project will take about $3 M of the money.  The agreement was worked out an unknown number of months ago, and has been wending its way through the MDC system - first being discussed at the Economic Development Committee meeting in early May, and then again by all of the Commissioners at their May 21 pre-meeting.

During this time, the Star failed to inform readers of its many editorials and opinion pieces that the deal was pending, a clear violation of the Code of Ethics as expressed by the Society of Professional Journalists.  Under "Act Independently", the third item on its Code of Ethics webpage, the SPJ says in part:
Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know.
Journalists should:
—Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
— Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
— Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
— Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
The Ballard Administration gift of taxpayer money would be repaid by revenues of the Consolidated Downtown TIF.

And what do you get for your gift?

 Some vaguely described improvements to N. Talbot, E. New York, and E. Vermont Streets, a dog park, and improvements of the existing Star building parking garage.

And how does this benefit you, the taxpayer?

Why the Pulliam Project is anticipated to create 49 new full-time jobs by mid-2017.  There is no mention in the resolution of the average salary of those positions.  And, there is no requirement that this number be reached.  That works out to a taxpayer investment of over $61,000 per job.  Of course the sales price of the Star building will rise concomitantly with the taxpayer gift.  One would also expect the time to sale would shorten with this sweetener, as well.

What also interests me is the last part of the resolution, where it states that the resolution to float the bonds will not be effective unless the Bond Bank "consents to and approves the adoption" of the resolution.  Anyone who follows City government knows that the person who envisions these projects is the same person to negotiates the taxpayer terms of these projects and is the same person who runs the Bond Bank; one Deron Kintner.  Why are they even pretending that there is any independent review of the taxpayer financing of these projects?

The taxpayers who pay attention to such things, are familiar with the extravagant accumulation of TIF funds and equally extravagant expenditure of the same, all while elected officials, including Mayor Ballard, seek tax increases to pay for basic services.  This one is different in that it calls into question the independence and integrity of the Indianapolis Star.

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