While Jarosz's article does exaggerate IDI's efforts, I think she does a good job of balancing the fact that this "pass through" of taxpayer dollars is costly to taxpayers. Zahn's $200,000 salary is noted as well as the fact that IDI has stashed away $7.7 million in assets. The true balance of the article comes with the comments of community activist Pat Andrews:
Pat Andrews, vice president of the Marion County Alliance of Neighborhood Associations, said some of the services IDI provides, such as promoting Downtown, is done by other groups such as the ICVA and the Indiana Sports Corp. Others, she said, could be done more cheaply by city employees.Unfortunately the article also contains an irresponsible comment from Roland Dorson, President of the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce:
IDI President Tamara Zahn earns about $200,000 a year, while the group's four other top executives make from $85,000 to $104,000 per year.
"At the end of the day," Andrews said, "they're getting pretty exorbitant salaries to duplicate the efforts of other people and for more money than the city can do on its own."
This does not put the city in an advantageous position," said Roland Dorson, president of the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce. "Along with the benchmark cities, we compete globally with places like Melbourne or Vancouver.It should be noted that Dorson has also promoted the continued irresponsibility of the Capital Improvement Board as well as additional tax increases on businesses to pay for that irresponsibility, including the Council voting to give Indianapolis the highest combined hotel/sales tax in the country. One wonders how well Dorson is representing his constituency.
It's about our brand -- how do we continue to promote that?"
Although presented with an ideal opportunity to note IDI"s inefficiencies and lavish spending on salaries and benefits, Paul Okeson chief of staff to Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, instead notes the "important partnership" the City has with IDI and suggests that the continued funding of tax dollars to IDI would continue if the economy were in better shape.
Asking that groups like Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. and the Arts Council of Indianapolis, Inc. be responsible stewards of taxpayer money, is not "shortchanging" Indianapolis. We should not be simply handing over money to these organizations and then doing no oversight whatsoever while those organizations pay themselves lavish salaries and benefits. Nonetheles, IDI should not be receiving any tax dollars. IDI's funding should come from the downtown businesses it purports to help. Most likely though those businesses would see IDI for the bad investment it is if asked to fork over significant dollars to support the organization.
Monday, June 8, 2009 Taxpayers Spend Millions to Subsidize Indianapolis Downtown, Inc.; Meanwhile Non-Profit Corporation Hoards Cash and Pays Lavish Salaries
Tuesday, July 7, 2009 Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. Picks Taxpayers' Wallets While Patting Itself On The Back