Proposal 13-250, heard by the Public Works Committee, would have allowed the city to float $150,000,000 in 30 year municipal bonds "to finance certain street, road, curb and sidewalks improvements."
|Department of Public Works |
Director Lori Miser
Back to Proposal 13-250. $150 million would be borrowed using 30 year bonds. The money though would have to be spent in three years, no more than $50 million per year. Public Works Director Lori Miser repeatedly insisted that under the ordinance the City could borrow as little as $135 million, which fact she for some reason seemed to believe was a key selling point but no one took seriously. For good reason. If there is one thing I learned about how the current administration operates it is that any loan or tax authority will be maxed out. Therefore, Pat Andrews of Had Enough Indy's excellent take on this issue, my analysis of the bonds will focus on the $150 million figure.
Under the ordinance the City is authorized to sell the $150 million in bonds to the Bond Bank for no less than 98% of par value. That means the Bond Bank can buy the $150 million in bonds from the City for as little as $147 million. So we lost $3 million there.
The ordinance caps the bond interest rate at 7%. Deron Kintner, Deputy Director and counsel for the Indianapolis Bond Bank who strangely is also Deputy Mayor for Economic Development (conflict of interest anyone?), however, said the current interest rate is projected to be about 4.99%. The ordinance caps the interest at 7%. Kintner indicated that debt service (the monthly payment including principle and interest) on the 30 year bond would be about $9 million.
Well, Kintner conveniently rounded that down. The annual debt service is $9,651,792. Over the course of 30 years, taxpayers, on the $150,000,000 bonds would have to pay back $289,553,741, i.e. that $150,000,000 bond would cost $139,553,741 in interest plus the aforementioned $3 million.
During her PowerPoint presentation, Miser went through a number of projects that could be addressed if the Public Works Department received the money. To further entice councilors into voting for the proposal, a longer list of possible projects were provided not all of which could be covered be addressed by the $150 million. Some of the Democratic councilors, most notably Pam Hickman and Zach Adamson picked up on the fact that many of the projects were repaving and sidewalks, improvements that aren't going to last anywhere close to 30 years.
Controller Jason Dudich attempted to come to the rescue saying that part of the requirement of getting the money is that any improvements have to last 30 years, which seemed to contradict Miser's
|Councilor Ginny Cain|
How would the the annual $9,651,792 tab for this $150 million debt be paid? Several taxes were identified in support of the revenue bond including the county motor vehicle excise tax, county wheel tax. (In Proposal 13-252, a measure later tabled by the Public Works Committee, the Ballard administration had proposed eliminating the sunset provision on the excise and wheel taxes.) The major revenue source identified, however, was $7.8 million in state gasoline taxes sent to Marion County most of which is eligible to be spent on road projects. This was identified as a new source of revenue.
When asked if they could guarantee the revenue source would continue, Miser and Dudich insisted that state officials have made a "commitment" that the gasoline tax revenue would continue to flow to Marion County. Later, however, Dudich and DPW Deputy Director Andy Lutz admitted that new tax revenues would have to be "found" to pay back the loan. (Lutz was particularly adamant in saying "the gas tax is not the answer.") Nonetheless, the admission that new tax revenue would have to be found did not stop administration officials and the two councilors on the committee, Ginny Cain and Janice McHenry, from insisting this was could all being done without a tax increase. Cain and McHenry were thrilled about the possibility about spending the next generation's money on projects in their districts for the next three years. Cain pointed out that she's a councilor NOW and who knows where she will be in 30 years?
So the administration and Republican councilors wanted to take out a 30 year bonds, which money is to be spent in three years on improvements on road paving and sidewalks, i.e. many of which improvements won't last anywhere near 30 years. And the revenue source which is to be used to repay the 30 year loan is so uncertain that administration officials admit that another source of revenue will have to be found to pay for the borrowing. How irresponsible can Republicans be with the taxpayers money and the future of our children and the future of Indianapolis?