... "coin" being the operative word here. (Or maybe we should refer to "timing.")
The weekly paper hit our mailbox yesterday with a front page that really struck the eye. Alongside the words "TIF awash in cash" - in very large type - was a map of the consolidated downtown TIF district.
We would suggest that the map tells us why the district is so wealthy. The concept of TIF operation was supposed to relate to the impact of a particular project in a specific geographic area. But there is nothing so fungible as a stack of dollar bills.
When a TIF district, shaped roughly like a super-gerrymandered political district, includes property from south of McCarty Street to Burdsal Parkway on the north, and from White River at 16th Street to an area east of College Avenue, who is to say which projects affect which area and by how much?
So the financial wizards of the city tell us who gets what and the rest goes into someone’s hip pocket to be used as a politician sees fit. Maybe for a cricket pitch? For a soccer stadium so necessary downtown? In other words, anything to which the magic words "economic development" can be attached.
The second "side of the coin" appeared in this morning’s daily paper, presented by the paper’s principal political columnist, Mr. Tully, who shamelessly ties his usual approval for new taxes to the dreadful death of a small boy struck by a car while crossing a street.
Tully suggests a "commuter" tax dedicated to sidewalks and street crossing signs. These are part of the city’s infrastructure, which justifies the levy he says. He also humbly informs us that he, as a migrant to Carmel, would be paying the tax. He does not say why we should think a "sidewalk tax" would be used any more directly or efficiently than recent increases in "public safety taxes."
But he does have one kicker. The local tax could be used to pry loose "...massive federal matching grants." (Our emphasis.) Maybe "Indy Tax Dollars" should not be commenting on national problems. But we have to ask.
"Matching grants" are taxpayer dollars. How much more than $18,000,000,000,000 would the debt be if every city used "free" federal funds for local sidewalks?