According to the Channel 6 story:
Mayor Greg Ballard sounded off against state legislators Tuesday for what he called their failure to adequately address the Capital Improvement Board's $47 million operating deficit as the clock ticks toward a midnight state budget deadline.Okay, let's do the math for the Mayor. You start at $47 million. Deduct $10 million in already identified CIB budget cuts. That leaves $37 million. Then you deduct another $25 million in revenue from an increased hotel tax and a loan from the state.
Indianapolis needs legislative help to plug the projected deficit, and Ballard said he is frustrated that lawmakers' latest plan would raise only $25 million annually.
Ballard sought an increase of admissions, car rental and hotel taxes to pay for the operation of Lucas Oil Stadium and other Indianapolis sporting venues. (Note: Actually the Mayor also ask for authority to impose parking fees on downtown garages as another way to generate revenue for the CIB.)
Lawmakers only addressed the hotel tax increase, from 9 percent to 10 percent, in their latest proposal.
That increase, combined with $10 million in operating cuts, would cut into the funding shortfall, but would still leave a $12 million gap.
"It's problematic. It's disappointing, and frankly, the state's the loser. It's the state sales tax revenue really at stake," Ballard said. "I was very clear we need to get over this three or four-year hump. Then, we could re-look at it. If we can't do it with what they are making available to us, we are going to have to make some serious decisions."
Ballard admitted that he doesn't have a Plan B, and said the city will be forced to work with what it has. The mayor said he's concerned that the city's tourism efforts will suffer.
That leaves the $12 million shortfall the Mayor is complaining about. Hmm, where can the CIB get say $15 million without costing the taxpayers a dime, any cuts in CIB operations, or any loss of convention business? How about this... do not agree to have the taxpayers pick up the $15 million in operating costs on Conseco Fieldhouse, a building in which the taxpayers get 0% of the revenue.
The Pacers are entering the 10 year anniversary of their 20 year contract. That 10 year anniversary gives the team the right to get out of the contract early IF they pay a penalty of $50 million to $125 million dollars. The Pacers are never going to do that. They have no leverage that would require the CIB to reopen that deal and give the billionaire Simon brothers $15 million more per year of our money.
Why do we take the position that if the Pacers or Colts believe they cut a bad deal, it is okay to let them renegotiate it midstream? However, if it is the taxpayers getting screwed by a deal cut with the Colts or Pacers, we'll that is just tough luck.
Not only would foregoing the $15 million solve the Mayor's $12 million complained of shortfall, it would also eliminate the need for Indianapolis to raise the hotel tax at all. The Mayor complains about lost convention business. Does he not realize that raising the hotel tax, to give us nearly the highest combined sales/hotel tax in the country, will do a heck of a lot more to hurt convention business than giving the Simon brothers $15 million more per year for their Pacers franchise?
See Advance Indiana's take on this story by going here.