After every municipal election in Indianapolis, for decades, we have held hope that the next administration might decide to change some of the fiscal policies that seem to doom the city to never ending budgetary problems.
Years and years of economic "development" ideas have been wonderful for the downtown hospitality industry and for professional sports. The rest of the citizenry has been on the outside looking in, and as taxpayers, forced to pay most of the bills.
Our headline today refers to the thought that maybe the new mayor would be different. Turns out otherwise.
The morning paper tells us that the mayor wants to consider "...taking over..." the "redevelopment" of property the school board owns and is trying to handle. One sentence in the article killed our hope.
Here’s how Mr. Bennett, the deputy mayor of community development, expressed the current fiscal philosophy.
"Maybe it doesn’t make any sense for us to do anything at all other than sit back and wait for the winning bidder to come to us and ask for a development subsidy at this point." (Some of that easy to get TIF money?)
This policy, based in the reality of political contributions rather than economic facts, has strangled the concept of free enterprise or of "risk and reward" in local business operations. The availability of public funds has become a very high priority of things to be determined when starting a project.
We’ve lost track of the specific times when hundreds of millions (billions?) of tax dollars have been shoveled out to real estate developments, sold as "investments" which were to result in municipal finance stability.
May to be true for the developers themselves. It just requires ignoring the needs of ordinary governmental functions like parks, public safety, streets, etc., to make it usable as intentional public policy.
Usable. But a very long way from acceptable.