Monday, August 18, 2014

Hold On To Your Wallets - Its Budget Time

Tonight's City County Council meeting will kick off the budget process for next year's spending and taxing.

Mayor Ballard will give his annual budget introductory remarks. 

Elimination of the local homestead credit is once again included - Prop 248.  Not to make ends meet anymore.  Not to contain the ballooning public safety budget 'deficit' anymore.  This time he wants to eliminate it to fund pre-K education.

I did not see increases in income taxes, but expect to see that appear soon enough.

Being introduced tonight is a second attempt to increase the stormwater user fee that appears on the property tax bill.  Prop 249 would automatically increase the fee each and every year going forward.  This feature was also included in the first attempt and drew speculation that the Ballard administration was just sweetening the pot so that he could sell off this utility to a private concern.

We are being treated again to a lobbyist-drafted ordinance sponsored by Councillor Mary Moriarty Adams.  Prop 250 would allow digital billboards in Marion County.

Prop 254 is offered in reaction to Ballard-Vaughn's recently inked agreement with Covanta for 'recycling', which contained a 70% tax abatement that was not called a tax abatement.  Prop 254 urges the State Legislature to make any agreement containing a rebate on taxes or a forgiveness of taxes to be subject to Council approval, just like any other abatement in a TIF district is.

Coming before the Council for a vote this evening are a few items, including:

Prop 241 urges IPL to abandon coal as a fuel at its Harding Street plant.  Check this one off as completed.

Props 162 and 163 would allow $100,000 from the Mayor's Office budget be donated to United Way.  This brings up two questions - why is there so much fluff in the Mayor's Office budget and why should taxpayers be subsidizing any non-for-profit that brings in millions of dollars a year on its own?

Prop 349, 2013 would establish a TIF in the Avondale Meadows area.  This TIF is much needed, no doubt.  But specificity regarding its funding remain lacking and of concern.  Also of concern is a lack of resident control of or input on the projects that might get funded.

Prop 195 would establish a landlord registry.  It would cost local residential landlords $5 per year, but it would require out of state owners to establish an in-state manager responsible for any infractions that might beset the property.  Failure to register a property would result in fines ranging from $100 to $500.  This is a good one in my book.

Another good one is Prop 232, which would require defibrillators in all public buildings and buildings housing a department or agency of the City County government.

Budget hearings start this week.  Tuesday will see the introduction by Controller Jason Dudich as well as the budget presentation his office, the Office of Corporation Counsel, and two others.  Wednesday will be the budgets of the Public Defender, Community Corrections, and the Child Support division of the Prosecutor's office.  Both hearings will begin at 5:30 pm in Room 260 of the City-County Building.  Thursday will be the hearing for the Parks Department budget.  That will begin at 5:00 pm, same room.

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