Saturday, March 9, 2013

Indianapolis Council Democrats Attempt to Spin Their Vote for CIB Tax Increases

Prior to Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard's State of the City speech, the Democratic members of the City-County Council held their own press conference.  In their statement, they touted one of their accomplishments for the year as:
Council President Maggie Lewis
• Securing contributions for public safety budgets from the Capital Improvement Board in budget negotiations with Ballard....
How utterly dishonest.

One of their members, Brian Mahern, actually did try to get a contribution from the CIB for public safety by proposing the idea of the CIB paying a PILOT (payment in lieu of [property] taxes).  In the end, the Democrats on the council, most noticeably Council President Maggie Lewis who is a board member of the CIB, wouldn't support Mahern on the proposal.

So then how do the Democrats claim that they got the CIB to contribute to public safety?

Democrats (and Republicans) on the Council voted to max out two taxes - a 50% increase in the local rental car tax and 67% increase in the admissions tax, taxes which by the way the state legislature only authorized to be raised for the purpose of repaying a state loan and which were not needed by the CIB to repay that loan.  Then instead of giving the CIB 100% of the revenue from the tax increases, they agreed to give the CIB "only" 75%. 

In other words, instead of giving the CIB $6.7 million in new revenue every year (the estimated amount of revenue the tax increases will raise), the Council votes to hand the CIB $5 million more a year from taxpayers.  Thus, the Democrats claim, the CIB is contributing $1.7 million.  Talk about funny math.

The Democrats may also point to the part of the deal where the CIB has to pay $5 million to the City for public safety.  Of course, that is in conjunction with the City agreeing to pick up $5 million in garage repair expenses the CIB previously was going to assume.   So there was no real contribution of money.

Not to blame all Democrats. There were thoughtful ones such as Brian Mahern and Zach Adamson who spoke out against the tax increases, especially because that tax revenue was going primarily going to the CIB which didn't need the money.

Republican councilors also bear responsibility.  They voted to max out two taxes claiming it was about public safety, when in fact they knew perfectly well most of the money was going to the coffers of the CIB.  Again, not all Republican councilors voted for the tax increases.  Christine Scales and Jack Sandlin voted against the proposals.

In the end, eight Democrats and eight Republicans supported both of the tax increases.  That vote was not accidental.  That an equal vote in favor of the tax increases could be orchestrated over the two votes-  shows that both parties are in bed together when it comes to increasing taxes in order to give those tax dollars away to the owners of professional sports teams.

The Council's vote for the CIB tax increases was shameful and disingenuous, an insult to taxpayers.  Both parties were responsible.   Neither side has anything to brag about.

1 comment:

Had Enough Indy? said...

Republicans Freeman and McHenry voted no on the ticket tax and yes on the car rental tax, while Holliday and Lutz swapped with them to vote yes on the ticket tax and no on the car rental tax increases.

Voting against both were Democrats Adamson, Evans, Gray, Mahern, Mansfield, Mascari, Oliver & Simpson.