City budget and City Government and Local Government and Capital Improvement Board and Government & Economic Development and Government

Some council members still unsure about CIB budget

October 25, 2010

The Capital Improvement Board’s controversial spending plan will face its final trial Monday night as the City-County Council takes up the city’s $1.1 billion budget for next year.

As of Friday, council members from both sides of the aisle expressed uncertainty about getting full support from their caucus for the $73.1 million CIB budget, which includes $10 million to operate Conseco Fieldhouse—lifting the financial burden from the Indiana Pacers.

Five of seven members of the council’s municipal corporations committee agreed last week to send the CIB proposal to the full council.

But Democratic minority leader Joanne Sanders said final passage of the budget was “very tenuous” among her 13-member caucus, and Council President Ryan Vaughn said some of his 14 fellow Republicans had not yet decided how they would vote.

Ed Coleman, the 29-member body’s lone Libertarian, said he did not plan to support it.

“There are folks unwilling to commit because of questions they’re still asking,” Vaughn said. “People obviously have a lot of concerns about it because the public is being very concerned about it.”

The Pacers funding has been a dicey issue during city budget hearings against the backdrop of financial shortfalls for the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library and the IndyGo bus system.

The municipal corporations committee approved a property tax shortfall appeal to help IndyGo next year. And raising the library’s tax rate in exchange for lowering the rate for a city economic-development fund will help the library generate enough money to pay employee retirement benefits next year. But the library will not be able to avert a 26-percent reduction in hours across the system.

During the Oct. 19 committee hearing, about 10 residents showed up to protest the funding for the Pacers, holding signs with slogans such as, “Just say no to the CIB”

The councilors, some of whom also expressed initial concerns about the CIB budget, said they shared in the discontent but thought it was important for the full council to review it.

It’s unclear, though, whether they’ll embrace that philosophy when it comes down to the final vote.

The overall city budget calls for cutting $22 million in local spending—reducing expenditures to roughly 2008 levels. That includes measures such as eliminating a police recruit class and implementing a pay and hiring freeze.

The city also plans to tap its $17.5 million rainy day fund.

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