Thursday, May 28, 2009

At Center Township Mayor's Night Out, Indianapolis Mayor Ballard Proposes Three Part CIB Fix: Taxes, Taxes and More Taxes

At the Center Township Mayor's Night out held on May 12, 2009 at the Mount Zion Apolostic Church, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard was asked what other options he is considering besides tax increases to bailout the CIB. His answer? He had none. His only supposed non-tax proposal, expanding the professional sports tax district, simply amounts to diverting tax revenue from other government services to the CIB, revenue that will likely have to be replaced by, guess what? More taxes. His other proposals? Raising taxes he said would only affect out of county people attending events at Lucas Oil Stadium or Conseco Fieldhouse - taxes on rental cars, hotel rooms and event tickets. Huh? Okay, I get the ticket tax argument, but the hotel and rental car tax? Mayor Ballard insists that in order to save the hospitality industry we need to raise hospitality taxes, giving the city one of the highest combined hospitality tax rates in the country. Logical, that isn't.

Ironically, the Mayor admitted that even if he got all the expanded professional sports district and tax increases he wants, the CIB would still be $15 million short. The CIB has built into its alleged $47 million deficit, the assumption that the CIB will starting picking up the Pacers $15 million in annual operating costs for Conseco Fieldhouse, even though the team claims it didn't ask for the money and doing so is not at all required by the existing Pacers-CIB contract. It was the perfect opportunity for the Mayor to stand up for taxpayers and say that they should not be saddled with this expense on a building in which the Pacers are getting all the revenue. Of course, the Mayor didn't do that. Instead he proposed expanding the professional sports district even more to close the gap.

Making the transcript of the exchange, it is remarkable how out of touch this Mayor is with public opinion. He seems to believe if he keeps repeating his untruthful spin enough times, people actually will start believing him. It is not working.

The exchange is at about 57:15 on the recording:
Q: In view of recent CIB funding shortfalls, what other alternative funding options are being considered other than tax increases?

Ballard: Alright, the real story here is, there is a huge shortfall. I’m sure you know the numbers…47 million dollars. Here’s what we’re proposing to do…here’s what we want to do. The CIB has already got $10 million. And please understand, we have to fix this. This is about the convention business. Employs a LOT of people in the city. In my opinion, we absolutely have to fix this. Alright, just understand this, where I’m coming from. Because otherwise we are set to unload a chain of events that none of us want to see. The buildings were built, the convention center is being expanded and I’m not here to point fingers and you’ll never heard… see me pointing fingers. All I’m telling you is we have to fix this. Okay. There is no, the operating budget is not here… to make this work. That’s just the way it is.

So, the CIB has got about $10 million, somewhere between $8 and $10 million. There is a couple options we’re exploring at the statehouse, an expansion of the professional sports district area and that’s really what we’re trying to do the most. I think everybody in Marion County, certainly everybody on the council is that is the primary people trying to fill the large gap, an expansion of that area, which means that we get the tax revenues out of that area as opposed to going to the state and that’s not real popular with other parts of the state as you can probably imagine, alright, and most people in the state legislature are not from Marion County. So we have PSDA of City of Indianapolis and asked them to expand it to at least the TW Marriott and there is general agreement that will happen and we are asking them to expand that more.

Other than that there are a couple other options out there that we’re exploring. All that said, this is kind of a given that the three taxes here in Marion County don’t really affect Marion County residents directly unless you use the facilities – car rental tax, innkeeper’s tax, and admissions tax for events at Lucas Oil Stadium and Conseco Fieldhouse and like. So those are the three we are working with at the State and Marion County is willing to put on the table. We have to make sure the Council will agree with that obviously but the State is kind of counting on that. But there is still a gap in there of about $15 million dollars after all of this. And it has to be filled. And we’re hoping to get it filled by an expansion of the professional sports district area and if that doesn’t happen there is a couple other ways to go about that and we’ll unveil all of that next week so everybody knows, no secret. No secret. But I’m here to tell you, from my viewpoint … absolutely critical. Critical. Tens of thousands of jobs are at risk. Future. Understand that.


guy77money said...

Tens of thousands of jobs are at risk? Please tell me no lies! What are the Simon's going to pack up and leave Indy if they don't get the 15 million? This is the Bozo I voted for... Oh well Peterson would have just gone ahead and raised taxes already if he was still in office. Hmm the casino deal already dead?

Jon said...

Apparently our mayor is one of those persons who believes if you tell the same story long enough eventually someone will believe it. It is always the same old canard we will lose billions of dollars and thousands of jobs unless we keep funding the monstrosity known as the CIB. When oh when will our mayor face the reality that the tail is wagging the dog?
Note to mayor, we are at our saturation level for CIB and it's taxes. It's time to discuss bankruptcy for the CIB not more taxes to support its continued inept management!

M Theory said...

The word I'm getting is that the city councilors aren't going to commit suicide for the mayor and vote for this!

The mayor needs to call for a forensic audit before he rubber stamps any tax increase. The People need full transparency of everything that's happened with the CIB for at least the past 10 years before he has any chance of a tax increase flying.

The mayor's re-election is completely depedent on how he handles this issue. So far, the Mayor is failing.