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.