The Indy Chamber and a west-side neighborhood group are urging the City-County Council to approve a new criminal justice center, which they see as a catalyst for redevelopment.
"The need for Indy's new justice center is unquestionable, and we encourage the City-
County Council to support this plan as it will have a transformational impact on our city's urban core,” Indy Chamber CEO Michael Huber said in a prepared statement released Tuesday morning.
Michael Huber, Indy Chamber of Commerce
"Throughout the debate, the Indy Chamber has echoed the call for swift, yet thoughtful action to move forward and spur much needed investment in and redevelopment of the brownfield site of the former GM Stamping Plant as well as downtown's near east side,” Huber said. “The proposed justice center does just that while focusing on the importance of increasing the quality of life for residents and consolidating critical public safety services."The IBJ fails to mention that Huber served as three years as Deputy Mayor for Economic Development under Mayor Ballard, leaving that position in September 2012. During that time he aggressively pushed Mayor Ballard's privatization and corporate welfare proposals which often led to tax and fee increases.
A fiscal feasibility study commissioned by the Indianapolis City-County Council has concluded that funding for the $1.75 billion facility will fall $37 million short the first eight years, necessitating budget cuts or a tax increase. The independent study also found that utilizing a private company to build and operate the Justice Center for 35 years, with the City as a renter, would cost taxpayer $516 million more than the City simply building, owning and maintaining the facility itself.
That the Chamber supports the Justice Center, which has been exposed as crony capitalism at its worst, shows how far the organization has strayed for its original mission of being an ally for business. Rather than help medium and small sized businesses in Indianapolis by advocating for lower taxes and less government, the Chamber has instead become a shill advocating for more corporate welfare for a handful of politically-connected developers, contractors and other businesses, many of which aren't even located in Indianapolis.
Note: Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana has written extensively on this subject, including analysis of the independent study which can be found here.