A $15-million payment from the Capital Improvement Board of Marion County to the city of Indianapolis is looking unlikely for 2013.
The board’s directors voted Thursday afternoon on three actions that will circumvent the $15 million payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, which the Indianapolis City-County Council included in the CIB’s budget.
Council Democrats were counting on the PILOT to fund a police and firefighter recruit class and to help close a gap in the city’s roughly $1 billion 2013 budget. The CIB is a municipal corporation that runs downtown properties, including Banker’s Life Fieldhouse and Lucas Oil Stadium, which are exempt from property taxes.
Without the $15 million, the city will have to spend more of its rainy-day fund than Mayor Greg Ballard had anticipated in his version of the city’s budget. Ballard and the council are at odds over imposing the fee on the CIB, but Ballard opted to let the board fight its own legal battles.
The CIB’s directors voted unanimously to appeal the property-tax assessment that resulted in the $15-million PILOT. CIB officials argue that Marion County Assessor Joseph O’Connor should have assessed the properties by March 1 if the city wanted to impose a PILOT for 2013. Further, the CIB’s leadership said they haven’t even received the assessment yet.
The CIB will also ask the State Board of Accounts to determine whether its budget was properly approved by the council, and whether to follow the 2012 or 2013 budget in the meantime.
“We’re kind of walking new ground here,” CIB Chairwoman Ann Lathrop said.
The CIB’s vote was 7-0 with two members absent: City-County Council President Maggie Lewis and Jay Potesta.
If all else fails, the CIB would consider taking legal action, Lathrop said.
“We just don’t believe it’s prudent,” she said of the PILOT. “We’re on our way to solvency and this would derail that.”
The once cash-strapped CIB expects to have a cash balance of about $67 million by year’s end. But Lathrop, insists that much of the reserve—$52 million—is earmarked for improvements to the properties it operates and debt payments.
The council scheduled a special meeting Thursday evening where it will attempt to override Ballard’s line-item budget vetoes. Democrats are the majority with 16 members on the council, but it takes 20 votes to override a veto.