Unfortunately Council Republicans appear to be on the verge of adopting a proposal that will bring fiscally irresponsibilty to a new level.
Proposal 132, 2010, introduced by southside Republican Mike Speedy, authorizes the issuance and sale of up to $170,000,000 in revenue bonds "to procure funds to be applied to the costs
of the construction, renovation, rehabilitation and installation of improvements to the public ways, including roads, streets, alleys, trails, sidewalks and other public facilities, appropriating the proceeds derived from the sale of such bonds, modifying the amount of payments in lieu of taxes payable by the sanitary district. " The bonds are to last for 30 years, with the last payment due in 2039.
I don't know of too many people who would argue that Indianapolis doesn't have important, indeed critical, infrastructure needs. However, most of the the projects outlined in Speedy's proposal have a useful life of far less than 30 years.
Let's say, for example, that the money is used to repave crumbling Guion Road on the city's northwest side, a worthwhile project which I as a Pike Township resident can personally attest is needed. A newly repaved Guion Road will at best last 10 years before it will have to be repaved again. Yet, we will continue paying on that repair 20 years after the improvement has run its course. It's the same with the other improvements cited in the summary to Speedy's resolution. They all have life spans considerably less than 30 years.
Further, the bonding authority isn't limited to $170 million. The resolution, if passed, would authorize the administration to take out more bonds in excess of the $170 million for "additional projects." (See Section 24) The Council would be handing the Ballard administration (and future administrations) a blank check on issuing bonds against the PILOT.
The bond proposal - by mortgaging the future for an immediate infusion of cash for short term projects - is one of the most short-sighted things I've seen a legislative body consider. That Council Republicans, who are supposed to be fiscally conservative by nature, are supporting this rreckless administration proposal shows the desperate political situation they are in. In 2011, they will likely be on the ballot with an unpopular mayor who has forced them to betray their conservative, fiscally responsible principles time and time again. Now the Ballard administration is throwing a Hail Mary pass - proposing to mortgage the future for a flurry of Election Year construction projects that administration officials hope turn around the Mayor's re-election prospects. Rather than follow the Mayor down this fiscally irresponsible road , Council Republicans would be better advised to finally show some independence from the Mayor and start representing the best interests of the people. It is too late to save this Mayor. Council Republicans need to start looking out for themselves.