Indianapolis city officials and City-County Council leaders are negotiating potential budget changes that could make two administration tax proposals more appealing, both
Council President Maggie Lewis
Mayor Greg Ballard’s proposed $1 billion city-county budget for next year depends on those tax changes to provide nearly $13 million for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. The proposals would eliminate the homestead property tax credit and expand a police taxing district from the old city limits to the county line.
The combined upshot would include a tax cut for central parts of the city, higher taxes for outlying areas and a hit to township schools districts’ budgets.The public is not going to certainly view the proposals as a tax cut. They're going to, rightly, view elimination of the local homestead tax credit and expansion of the IMPD taxing district outside the city limits as property tax increases. While the expansion of the IMPD taxing district will help out some residents in the old city limits, the key to the Democrats winning the Mayor's office in 2010 is not how they perform in the old city limits. Rather the key is beating the Republican mayoral candidate in close townships like Warren, Lawrence and Wayne and crushing the Republican candidate in Pike and populous Washington Townships.
The Democrats are in an ideal position to wrap a property tax increase around Mayor Ballard's legacy and assure the Democrats of recapturing the Mayor's Office in 2015. I am not all convinced though that Council President Maggie Lewis won't foolishly negotiate away the Democrats advantage on the property tax issue. She has already supported the CIB tax increases earlier this year and successfully encouraged her caucus to match the Republicans support of those tax increases, ensuring that the issue couldn't be used by Democrats in the next election. Lewis recently voted on the CIB to give the Pacers $21 million a year, and will presumably encourage the Democrats on the Council to pass the CIB's budget, including the Pacers $21 million gift. That is yet another dynamite political issue Lewis has frittered away. Will the property tax issue be the next one? Don't bet against her.
Brian Mahern might rub some feathers the wrong way, but when it comes to his claim that Maggie Lewis's leadership of the Democratic caucus is hurting Democrats, I do believe he has a point.