The new issue of the IBJ came to our mailbox yesterday, and we were somewhat disturbed by reading the editorial on Page 8.
The author is supporting the mayor’s idea of solving the city’s monetary problems by luring more residents who have higher incomes than the current population. The temporary answer is, of course, a commuter income tax to penalize the folks who choose to live somewhere else and only work here.
We are supposed to be concerned by the fact that public safety and criminal justice expenditures "...gobbled up 92 percent of the general fund in 2013...." As usual, we get misleading statistics about the city’s fiscal situation.
Some years ago, the "general fund" would have been a major part of city outlay. Currently, the intentional financial complexity which has so many separate agencies - with separately dedicated tax revenues - makes using a single budgetary department figure as the definition of the problem a farce.
We now have multi-million dollar subsidy of professional sports, wildly extended use of property tax abatements and gifts, and the establishment of the TIF slush funds enabling the administration to commit public money to what may rightly be called corporate welfare.
And to add fuel to the fire, the penultimate paragraph of the same editorial applauds the legislature for moving forward on the transit boondoggle which would be still another separate agency with separately dedicated tax revenues.
The emotions became "mixed" when our eyes finally drifted across to Page 9. The first thing to strike the eye was the astounding headline, "Put mass transit to the real-world test."
Wonder of wonders! The publication of a thoughtful suggestion about the proposed transit boondoggle! Here’s a gentleman who thinks it might be helpful to cut through the B.S. (Biased Sludge) and offers a new, logical concept.
His idea is that, before "...any taxes or fees are implemented." there should be "...an objective, factual survey among potential customers and taxpayers." He specifically asks for this type of study as opposed to "...a report from a company or other entity that would benefit from construction and/or operation..."
We think, and hope our readers might agree, that this is a novel but fantastically worthwhile idea for Indianapolis these days. An objective study which would be required to include taxpayers and shut out the fiscal parasites! WOW!!!
His suggestion includes a test period during which trains would run (as do the State Fair trains) from Noblesville, via Fishers, to the state fairgrounds but with additional supplemental bus service on to downtown. Actual riders would be surveyed on the pros and cons.
While we certainly applaud this gentleman’s suggestion, one question does arise - actually for such a test as well as the proposal itself. Can the test be run with the single set of rails on the right-of-way as it now exists? Without some provision for trains to pass each other, it would appear that train service would be like a yo-yo with only one train moving back and forth on the same path.
At any rate, we do congratulate the author of the proposal. We think his final paragraph, referring to the results of the suggested test is well worth repeating in its entirety.
"Either way, the risk to taxpayers is mitigated and the decision to go or not to go is substantiated by real data, not opinions, the potential for financial gain or wishful thinking. A complete and unbiased beta test must be undertaken before any taxes or fees are implemented."
Who knows? The concept might even catch on for cricket and soccer playgrounds!!