In our last post we raised the question of lack of communication downtown where seemingly contradictory projects or concepts are advocated and approved.
The front page of the IBJ which hit our mailbox yesterday carries two stories which, to us at least, pretty well define the situation. Except that this time it seems to be Mayor Ballard vs Mayor Ballard.
One tells us the story of the city’s dire need for a publicly financed, downtown soccer stadium. The prime beneficiary, the owner of the professional soccer team contends, among other things, "...the city’s Capital Improvement Board should own it." A spokesman for the mayor informs us that the mayor does indeed support both the stadium construction and public ownership upon its completion
Given the history of the CIB, the owner’s statement is completely understandable. That agency’s most recognizable and consistent policy seems to be the bailout of professional sports franchises. It certainly shouldn’t surprise anyone that the soccer team owner wants to get into the lineup for continuing subsidy.
We assume that the property being considered, once the site of a GM manufacturing plant, is currently on the property tax assessment rolls. City ownership would, of course, relieve the new occupant of that little problem.
Which brings us to the second item in the paper. This one tells of the mayor’s advocacy of any project which will increase the population of the city with folks who make more money than current citizens.
Mr. Vaughn, Ballard’s right hand, claims that property tax caps are maiming the city’s ability to fund its budget adequately. The only possible solution, he says, is to bring in more people to pay more income taxes to replace those lost property taxes.
Here we have side-by-side news articles which tell us the mayor supports more income tax revenue to enhance failing property tax revenue, while at the same time supporting a suggestion that a private corporation be subsidized in construction of, and simultaneously relieved relieved of paying property taxes on, its place of business!
Both of these stories are extensive, covering a total of nearly three pages. In the article about the need for income tax revenue there is still one small bright spot, a quote from John Mikesell, an Indiana University "economist and government finance expert."
He suggests a second look at the revenue effects of property tax abatements and other incentives. "Maybe some of the entities now paying little or no property tax should be reconsidered." he said.
We’d only add serious specific reconsideration of the way TIF district revenues are used - or ABused in Indianapolis.
Otherwise, AMEN, John!