Monday, January 17, 2011

Councilor Proposes Voluntary "Tax" for Library While Insisting on Mandatory Taxpayer Contributions to Pacers and Politically-Connected Developers

Indianapolis City-County Councilor Angel Rivera makes headlines today for proposing that when Marion County taxpayers pay their property taxes they can designate additional money to go to the library. In the last line, Thomas Shevlot, the Library board's President praises Rivera for "outside-of-the-box thinking."

The proposal is only clever in that it helps divert attention from how Councilor Rivera has consistently sold out taxpayers and city services like the library.

The library is funded by property taxes. Ultimately that pot of money is limited. When property taxes get diverted that leaves less money for public services like libraries.

Councilor Rivera took office in March of 2010. During that time he supported giving $33.5 million to the Pacers, money that will be coming indirectly from property taxes. Did Councilor Rivera propose making it voluntary whether taxpayers contribute to the Pacers? Nope.

Councilor Rivera had no problem requiring Indianapolis taxpayers struggling to make ends meet fork over their hard-earned money to the the billionaire owner of the Pacers.

Councilor Rivera has been supportive of every administration deal for politically-connected insiders, deals that could cost Marion County taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Rivera supports the North of South project that places the taxpayers on the hook for $98 million on a development that every lender which looked at it deemed as too risky. (It should be mentioned that Rivera's good friend, and the person who got him on the council, former Marion County GOP Chairman Tom John, is a lobbyist for the project.) It is the same thing with the East Market Street deal. Once again, property tax revenues are being diverted while Councilor Rivera does nothing but cheer on the looting of the taxpayers.

Councilor Rivera apparently thinks city services, like the library, should be paid for with voluntary contributions. But if a professional sports team or a politically-connected developer comes calling wanting more of our tax dollars, Rivera thinks taxpayers should have no choice but to pay up.

If Councilor Rivera really wants to do something for the taxpayers and the Library he can start opposing insider administration deals that take money away from both taxpayers and the libraries. Right now Councilor Rivera is little more than a cheerleader for the Ballard agenda, someone who has shown little intellectual depth on the Council or a willingness to ask tough questions. My hope is that, in his final twelve months in office, Councilor Rivera will finally show some independence and start approaching his job in a more thoughtful manner. I won't hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

Note: A clarification on Saturday's post immediately below. A few people thought the purpose of the post was to oppose the Library getting more tax dollars. My intent rather was to draw attention to the diversion of property tax dollars that have left libraries looking for alternative funding schemes. I know it's a pipe dream, but I want legislators like Sen. Merritt addressing things like the Pacer $33.5 million giveaway, that indirectly came from our property taxes, and the Ballard's administration's raiding of TIF funds for insider development projects. We need to be getting TIF properties back on the tax rolls as soon as possible. Unfortunately Sen. Merritt's proposal doesn't touch the misuse of property taxes and will ultimately allow those who helped cause the property tax shortfall for the library escape responsibility for their actions.


Cato said...

I'd love line-item taxation. I think I'd defund everything except the library, fire departments and road repair.

I salivate at the prospect of defunding the police. I'd get billboards around town advancing the initiative.

dcrutch said...

Fabulous point. How warped are we when Pacer funding is mandatory, but maintaining library hours is optional- oops, "voluntary".

What next, when Boomer needs a new costume we'll just lay-off a policeman? This is the secret China and India have on us in global competition? I missed that little-publicized passage the Asian Yale law school mom shared in Battle Hymm of the Tiger Mother: Make sure the kids spend more time admiring expensive new NBA scoreboards and and less at the library?

Jon said...

We need to dissolve the CIB and any other pseudo governmental agency that has taxing authority but does not have elected officials. In short we need true representation of where and how our taxes are sent.