Monday, April 13, 2009

Mayor Ballard Steps Forward and Provides Leadership; He Leads Council Republicans to Edge of Cliff and Asks Them to Jump

Following Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard's apparent balking at Senator Luke Kenley tax increase proposal a week and a half ago, many Republicans had renewed hope that the 2007 mayoral campaign Greg Ballard might be returning - that fresh face who promised to battle the elite interests of the city on behalf of city taxpayers. Today we had our worst fears realized when Mayor Ballard announced he was taking on the city's taxpayers on what will be a very unpopular crusade to raise taxes to bail out the Capital Improvement Board. Gary Welsh reports on the tax increases proposed by Mayor Ballard:
  • an $8 million cut from the operating budget of the Capital Improvement Board (after they started with a $20 million increase)
  • an increase in the ticket tax on all events at facilities the CIB operates from 6 percent to 10 percent (expected yield: $6 million)
  • Contributions from the Indiana Pacers and Indianapolis Colts of $5 million each
  • a one percent increase in the Marion County hotel tax (expected yield: $4 million)
  • a two percent increase in the Marion County car rental tax (expected yield $2 million) the ability to increase the local alcohol tax (expected yield $10-12 million; if county captures 100 percent of local consumption)
  • a requested expansion of the PSDA to include the new JW Marriott and expand the scope of the tax to include sales and income (expected yield $8.8 million)

Welsh dissects the Mayor's preposterous spin that raisign hospitality taxes is somehow good for the convention and hospitality industry:

In pushing his plan, Ballard continues to use a message that simply won't sell. "The financial problems related to the CIB did not happen overnight,"said Mayor Ballard. "And this is about more than the CIB. It's about Downtown Indianapolis, which serves as the economic engine for the county, the region and the state. It's about 66,000 jobs and $3.5 billion in annual revenue generated by the hospitality industry." Stop lying, Mr. Mayor. This is not about Downtown Indianapolis. It's not even about the City's convention industry. It's about putting tens of millions of additional taxpayer dollars into the pockets of the billionaire sports team owners every year. It is nothing less than that. Stop your scare tactics now, Mr. Mayor. They aren't working. The gig is up. And if you were really concerned about the future of the City's convention business, you wouldn't be proposing tax increases that could effectively break its back. The Mayor offers this additional good laugh according to the IBJ's Scott Olson: "The mayor said some of the taxes, particularly the alcohol and hotel levies, could be rescinded within five to 10 years, if the convention center expansion and Lucas Oil Stadium attract more events and generate more income for the CIB." Yeah, right, as if any tax increase implemented for the benefit of the CIB has ever been rescinded in the past despite promises to the contrary.

I can imagine the political battles that come. Mayor Ballard has no sway with he Democrats on the Indianapolis City County Council,. They are not about to bail him out of this mess considering that he ran on an anti-tax platform in 2007. With the exception of maybe one or two Democrats, the Republicans on the CCC will have to vote pretty much unanimously for these tax increases in order for them to pass. To get there, Mayor Ballard and advisors Bob Grand, Joe Loftus, and John Cochran will have twist council members arms and threaten like never before. These tax increases will not only seal the fate of the Mayor to being an unpopular one term incumbent, but supporting them will ensure the end of the Repblicans majority on the council as well as several individual political careers. Contrary to the Mayor's spin, the public overwhelmingly sees the CIB bailout as nothing more than taking more tax money and giving it to billionaire sports owners.

We finally got leadership from the Mayor. It's leadership that is taking the Marion County Republican Party to the edge of a cliff. The future of the Indianapolis GOP is most certainly at the bottom of the cliff if they go along with these tax increases.


M Theory said...

This is the one time the my city councilor (Monroe Gray) will likely honor my request to vote against taxes!

Seriously though, Mayor Ballard with this move, has said that his billionaire campaign contributors are more important than the people.

He didn't even TRY for us.

I know said...

These billionaires were not the first ones to be blessed in Indiana. They just got smart enough to get in line!

Who is the next billionaire to get paid to stay home and use other peoples money?

Good lobbying, your money to spend and friends that owe them political favors. Good recipe.

There is enough evidence out there to bring the whole mess down but nobody wants to look inside the dark closet!

Jon said...

Mayor steps forward and shoots self in foot. He can't be leading, I don't see anyone behind him...

M Theory said...

Bob Cockrum was on WIBC tonight already greasing the wheels. He sounded like a slimeball.

Had the nerve to say that Ballard CUT the CIB budget by $8 million. (Silent on the $12 million increase)

Cockrum also went on stating that property taxes won't be raised and neither will income taxes. YOU THINK?

Cockrum's head is who Ballard is choosing to go first to the guillotine!

Downtown Indy said...

Thursday, 6pm, Room 260 CCB - a special council meeting to discuss the CIB situation.

Paul K. Ogden said...


I so wish I could attend that meeting but I have class at U of I that night starting at 5:45. We're wrapping up the semester.

jabberdoodle said...

Ballard looks like a fellow who ran to the front of a parade that passed him by, just to say he was a leader. The similarities between Ballard's plan and Kenley's are striking. I can hear the Mayor's folks saying - but you HAVE to say NO to ONE thing on Kenley's list or it won't be YOUR plan.

The late date of this gives the public no opportunity to kill this in the legislature. The only hope is showing up in force at the City-Council Committee hearings.

I am heartened to hear that there is a special meeting called. Given the size of room 260 I have to assume its a committee - likely municipal corporations. Perhaps there are more Republicans who have stones, like Ed Coleman.

As for Cockrum, his only job has been to be the Party Guy (meaning Republican) since becoming President. That is his sole focus. At his age there always was the realistic view that this would be his last term in office. So, he really is risking nothing.

On a brighter note - what ex-Marine approach do you think the Mayor will take to convincing the public to back the billionaire bailout plan? 'Suck it up, leaches' ?

Paul K. Ogden said...


Unfortunately I teach that night. I'd LOVE to attend that meeting.

Mayor Ballard will NEVER convince the public to go along with this plan. If he were to put his proposal to a vote in a referendum it probably would lose 4-1 at least.

jabberdoodle said...

I got a copy of the notice for Thursday's meeting.

Municipal Corporations Committee
April 16, 2009 at 6:00 pm, room 260

Update on the Capital Improvement Board - Robert Grand, Chairman and Barney Levengood, Executive Director

The committee is chaired by Michael McQuillen, if that means anything to anyone.

Since there is no proposal on the agenda, just information gathering, I would not be surprised if there were no public comments allowed. Kind of goes by the discretion of the Committee Chair at the time.

Other members of the committee are: Jeff Cardwell, Maggie Lewis, Robert Lutz, Dane Mahern, Jackie Nytes, and Christine Scales.