Opinion and Forefront

SPIGELMAN: Cities should share joy of continued growth, development

February 26, 2011

Marnin SpigelmanQuestion: What role do you see Indianapolis playing in the future of Carmel?

Answer:
When I think of what Indianapolis can do for Carmel, I reflect upon the many arts entities that are supported by its citizens. The fact that Indianapolis has a symphony orchestra that is one of only 17 full-time orchestras left in the United States, and a viable arts community, one can recognize the city’s commitment to the arts.

Carmel recently celebrated the opening of the Center for the Performing Arts, which includes the Palladium concert hall. The promised cost of $80 million presented to our council by Mayor Brainard has been increased to $170 million to $200 million due to constant changes and embellishments he insisted on adding.

Though this hall is quite beautiful in respect to its construction and decoration, there appears to have been little analysis as to the cost to value to benefit for Carmel taxpayers.

Further, in the five years since the original bond approval, few donations have been collected, and nothing for an endowment. This, despite Brainard’s promise to raise $20 million to $60 million. It is my hope that a major fund-raising campaign seeking an endowment and naming rights for the Palladium will be initiated without further delay.

Without adequate funds, the city has been forced to subsidize the center with taxpayer money. This is unsustainable, and we therefore need the assistance of the citizens of Indianapolis to help patronize this center by attending many of the scheduled performances now and in the years ahead. In this great metropolitan area, it behooves us all to ensure that this cultural asset will survive.

The ultimate goal for the Indianapolis/Carmel metropolitan area is to share the joy of continued growth and development, strong fiscal leadership, and the appreciation and support of the arts granted to all of us through the genius of our present and past literary giants.

The bill introduced by Sen. Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville, to provide certain curbs on redevelopment commissions is essential for the fiscal health of Carmel. Our Carmel Redevelopment Commission has overspent business taxpayer funds, and in many cases without the required approval of the city council. Their actions have caused approximately $400 million in debt, including long-term interest.

What is important here is that our legislators must resolve the loopholes in the redevelopment statutes, but also those in the loosely written tax increment finance statutes.

Presently, the mayor of our city has the ability to appoint the majority of the redevelopment membership, and as such can basically control the commission’s actions. As a result, there have been many circumstances of creative accounting that have circumvented the necessity to involve our council from reviewing and approving new debt. This must be stopped.

The Carmel City Council represents the taxpayers of our city. It is the fiscal body that should have the final say as to the major expenses involving both resident and business property tax revenue.

I urge that all our state senators and representatives seriously consider this legislative overhaul of the redevelopment statutes that will definitively impact the financial stability of not only Carmel, but those cities in Indiana with redevelopment commissions such as the Capital Improvement Board in Indianapolis.

I look forward to being a part of the metropolitan area’s growth and development should I be elected mayor of Carmel. I will strive to work with the mayor of Indianapolis to bind our cities to pursue the common goals that will be of benefit to all our citizens.•

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Spigelman is a businessman and Republican candidate for mayor of Carmel. Send comments to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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