Saturday, August 3, 2013

Ballard Administration to Push for Income Tax Increase After Property Tax Increase Fails

Turn back the clock to the Summer of 2007.  Indianapolis residents were upset about Mayor Bart Peterson pushing a 65% increase in the county option income tax, much of which would be used to pay for public safety, including hiring more police officers.   This came on the heels of huge property tax increases.  As a result, a little known Republican named Greg Ballard, who promised to reverse Mayor Ballard's COIT tax increase, was elected Mayor that year.

Fast forward to 2013.  Mayor Ballard is in the sixth year of his mayoral tuenure and has become known for raising taxes and fees far more than his predecessor.  This year, Mayor Ballard touched the third rail by advocating for an increase of the most unpopular tax there is, the tax on people's homes.  A coalition of Democrats and three Republicans (Scales, Lutz and Freeman) on the Indianapolis City-County Council voted down that property tax increase.  Now Mayor Ballard has decided to change tactics.  This morning, IBJ reports (available subscription only) he is now advocating for a local income tax increase for public safety.  As the late, great Yogi Berra used to say "It's deja vu, all over again."

Mayor Peterson's 65% COIT increase tax remained in place under Ballard.  The number of police officers was never increased and have, in fact, gone way down.  Yet despite that massive increase in taxes for public safety in 2007, the money has gone into a black hole...or as this administration calls it "economic development," i.e. taxpayer subsidies for private developers.

It's unfortunate that so many Republicans on the Council have thumbed their nose at fiscal conservativism.  Instead they have embraced the welfare state, as long as that welfare state involves taking money from hard-working men and women and giving that money to private developers.

Just the other day this administration cut a deal with a private developer pledging to give it $18 million of the public's money to develop the old Market Square Arena property, one of the most valuable pieces of property in the city.  Of course the City also gave the taxpayer-owned property, worth an estimated $5 million, to the developer.  The City could have hired a lot of police officers with $23 million.

Of course that is not the only example.  Over the last four years, our city leaders have given $43.5 million to the Indian  Pacers.  Despite the fact that the Broad Ripple Parking Garage/Commercial Development Building was built with $6.35 million of the taxpayers money, the City simply gave away ownership, all parking revenue and all commercial rent revenues away to a private developer. When it came to North of South (name City Way) project, the City put taxpayers on the hook for more than $100 million.  Throughout the city TIF districts are getting created most of which run In the red draining property tax revenues away to pay bonds associated with the TIFs.  Under Ballard's leadership handing out property tax abatements and subsidies has become so common that no business person in his or her right mind would make a significant investment in Indianapolis without demanding a large taxpayer subsidy.

Is there any wonder we don't have money for basic services?  Indianapolis has put the risk for private development on the back of the taxpayers.  Our tax dollars are going directly into the pockets of private business.

A Republican who believes in fiscal conservativism would find cuts in spending first before demanding that Indianapolis' already beleaguered residents pay yet more local taxes.  Yet this administration wants to keep the corporate welfare gravy train going.  That means higher taxes.  God help us.

See Pat Andrews' take on this subject on her Had Enough Indy blog.


Guest said...

I drive by the BR garage at least daily and I see very few cars parked in it. I drive around the city and see the 99 percent riderless busses too. Yet they persist on mass transit.
No to Ballard -I knew once the caps were in place they would start undermining the caps with referendum proposals set up as lies and now this. Most people in the city do not know they are trying to take this credit away. It is not a "measly" amount to some people. It gets more and more difficult for taxpayers to keep up with their creative bookkeeping and machinations on the state and federal level. We now have government against the people.

Paul K. Ogden said...

People don't ride the bus in Indy because it's easy to drive. The "build it and they will come" argument for mass transit always flops in practice.

artfuggins said...

I wonder if Democrat County Assessor Joe O'Connor will support Ballard's income tax increase like he supported Ballard's proposal to abolish the local Homestead property credit.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Yeah, I was kind of surprised by that Art. Though it could have been a political move to keep the issue alive so the D's would have a vote at the council on it they could use against Ballard.

Certainly Curry will support the income tax increase.

Downtown Indy said...

He did say all that development he funded with our tax dollars would result in increase revenue.

He just made it sound like that revenue would come from the developments.

Marycatherine Barton said...

Ah yes, Guest, in Marion County, we have Democrats/Republicans'-run government AGAINST the people. What ya gonna do, ghostbusters!!

Pete Boggs said...

And the 50% attendance "solution" at last week's Brickyard didn't look much like a solution to fans or advertisers- on a perfect summer day.

Pacers players weren't impressed with playoff attendance- which bodes well naturally for a cricket stadium or any other public funded expansion of sports venues & entertainment options.

How is government beyond Constitutional charter a "good" thing?

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