Friday, September 4, 2009

CIB Panhandlers Appear Before Municipal Corporations Committee

Yesterday Bob Grand and Barney Levengood, President and Executive Director of the Capital Improvement Board respectively, came before the Municipal Corporations Committee of the Indianapolis City-County Council to present their budget. The highlights:

  • The CIB budget is just over $94 million dollars, an alarming $31 million of which is debt service.
  • The budget is $2.6 million in the red this year, despite the tax increase and the additional $9 million from the State. They have to dip into reserves to make up the difference
  • Now with the hotel tax increase, the CIB will be able to borrow $9 million more dollars. The CIB has already included this in the budget as "revenue." You get the impression that the CIB considers this more of a gift than a loan.
  • There is a problem with insurance on the outstanding bonds triggered by the CIB's declining reserves. Grand believes the State will come in and rescue the CIB on the issue. If not, the CIB's reserves will be wiped out.
  • Grand suggested that the City could use rainy day funds to give to the Indianapolis Convention and Visitor's Association to promote the City.
  • Grand doesn't believe any reform of CIB operations is necessary. Councilor Jeff Cardwell wisely had suggested that Grand reconsider the CIB's business model as it wasn't working.
  • The CIB still wants to give the ICVA more money to promote the city. There was no call to examine salaries at the ICVA or to take a close look at its budget for cost savings.
  • Councilor Dane Mahern asked if there was any consideration for a 5% cut of top salaries at the CIB. The answer was "no." Levengood talked about furloughing lower paid workers and renegotiating contracts with lower paid contractors, but there was no consideration of reducing top level pay.
  • The CIB still plans to pick up the $15 million in operating costs at Conseco Fieldhouse. The Pacers have not officially asked yet. This is despite the fact that the Pacers have no leverage to demand $15 million. As I've examined on these pages, the Pacers can only exercise the opt out provision if they are selling the team and its moving and even then the penalty will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The CIB folks continue to ignore the terms of the contract when they express a desire to fund the Pacers.
  • Councilor Jackie Nytes seems interested in giving the Pacers the $15 million.
  • Councilor Bob Lutz continues to show why he should make this his last term. Never any probing questions from Bob...his softball questions always seemed designed to set up the CIB folks so they can talk about what a great job they are doing. Lutz is an attorney and is doing my profession a disservice when he can't seem to formulate a probing question that is anything more than his putting the ball on the tee for tax increase advocates.
  • Grand arrogantly dismisses critics of the CIB, saying that he's been trying to "educate" them and they're simply not listening. Here's an idea, maybe people are "educated" and just don't agree with your "solutions" of higher taxes, more borrowing and spending, continued giveaways, and no change in how the CIB does business.

Once again, the CIB folks show they can't shoot straight. The most egregious part of the hotel vote is that not one councilor demanded reform in exchange for his or her vote. The saga continues.


Indy Student said...

Remember when Sean Shepard was cut off and corrected by Bob Lutz' and Lutz said the Conseco operations were "off the table?"

Ah, those were the days.

Jon said...

With the city bond rating going south fast the next we need more tax dollars scenario will be a refinance bond issue just like the water company deal. Has anyone in the #@%$! city got a clue about fiscal responsibility or will this tragic opera play out the rest of our lives?

Downtown Indy said...

'Off the table' meaning 'it's a done deal' and not subject to further discussion, I guess.

Paul K. Ogden said...


They're playing semantic games that the council has not been able to figure out. When they say the Pacers have not asked for the $15 million, they mean the team has not OFFICIALLY asked for the $15 million yet as the contract has not received its 10 year anniversary yet.