Due to personal problems of the author of this blog, some items of interest in the last few weeks have gone without comment. In order to bring our regular readers (all three of them) up to date, we’ll give a quick recap in this effort - in no particular order.
1) The mayor has a plan to get more students into and through college. The hope is to have a $2 million appropriation in the next budget for the “Office of Education,” a city agency which will then contract with “Employindy, the city’s “workforce development agency,” which will hire six new employees to run the program. We are told 25% of the annual appropriation will go to “reserves” “...to make sure the program can continue in perpetuity.” (Our emphasis.)
How’s that for openly establishing a permanent slush fund to be operated by one city agency - with additional employees - under contract with another city agency? Almost as good as TIF operations.
2) Known as the “Pacers Bikeshare operation, we’re going to put an additional 250 bicycles on the streets, apparently for the benefit of Indianapolis Cultural Trails, Inc.. The reference to funding is unclear to us. We are told of a million dollar federal grant, followed by wording that the city received a “similar grant.” We assume the first million went directly to the Cultural Trails folks. Then we note that the Pacers foundation is dropping in another $200,000. Considering the Pacers financial arrangement with the city, we would conclude that the taxpayers are on the hook for the whole $2.2 million. But the mayor is happy because this is being done “...at no additional cost to the taxpayer.” (Our emphasis.) We would pose two questions for the mayor. One, what is the source of the two million we’re going to get from the feds? Two, how many Indiana tax dollars have to go to Washington in order to get the two million back? (Interestingly, the mayor’s comment in the online version of this story did not appear in the print edition followup.)
3) A new Economic Improvement District (EID) will be set up for the downtown area to fund, in part, “...improved cleanup, a stronger police presence...” The bright spot is that these folks, mostly, are voting to tax themselves. The dark spot is the continuation of fiscal policy which requires new or increased taxation for a program, while denying any possibility that review of current expenditures just might cover the “needs.”
4) A new form of “incentive” has been developed in the state Economic Development Corp.. Instead of filling in for lost revenue, we’re going to hand Delta Airlines extra money for actually selling the seats - presumably at a price which covers the cost of providing them. With Delta filling a 211 seat capacity plane on a flight to Paris, the state is going to hand out $55 per seat, a neat little bonus of $11,600 for effective sales! Not bad for Delta, but we certainly see no reason for the taxpayer hand out the sweets. For one thing, we’d guess that an additional $55 on a ticket to Paris would generally have no effect on the sale thereof. And a very high percentage of those costs are most probably going to be written off as a business expense on a federal tax return.
There’s the story about the pollster asking a guy, “Which is worse for the country, ignorance or apathy?” The answer he gets is “I don’t know and I don’t care!” Is that now the Indianapolis motto?