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Dems look to downtown funds for Rebuild Indy alternative

June 18, 2014

City-County Council Democrats on Wednesday morning unveiled a $341 million infrastructure-spending plan that would tap downtown redevelopment funds.

The Democrats' plan is similar to a revised version of Rebuild Indy 2, which Mayor Greg Ballard and Republican Minority Leader Michael McQuillen announced last week. However, it calls for a smaller bond issue and would spend $15 million a year from the downtown tax increment finance district fund.

“That's the biggest difference between the two plans right there,” said Bart Brown, chief financial officer for the council.

Instead of a $105 million, 20-year bond issue, the Democrats' plan contemplates a $70 million, 20-year bond.

They also would look to the downtown TIF fund, where the unrestricted fund balance (money not needed to support debt payments) is projected to grow from the current $32 million to $47 million by 2016, Brown said. TIF districts are designed to capture property-tax revenue specifically from new developments to help fund area improvements.

Democrats called their proposal “Fix Our Neighborhoods Now!” and said it would allocate $12 million for work in each of the city's 25 council districts over four years.

“By being strategic with our resources, council Democrats have found a way to use more existing funds, borrow less, and create a fairer system that ensures no section of the city will be ignored,” Council President Maggie Lewis said in a prepared statement.

Democrats gathered at the World Sports Park, where about $6 million in Rebuild Indy funds is being spent to create a cricket field, as well as other multipurpose sports fields. Calling the park a pet project of Ballard's and a low priority for residents, they said their plan will require the council to allocate money for approved projects throughout the four-year program.

Ballard spokesman Marc Lotter said Wednesday that Democrats haven't communicated details of their plan, and that the mayor will consider it if it passes the council, where Democrats have the majority of seats.

Here is a breakdown of funding sources for the Democrats' four-year spending plan:

— $66.9 million from wheel and gas taxes;

— $40 million remaining from the sale of the city's water utility, which funded the first Rebuild Indy program;

— $19.2 million in cumulative capital-project funds;

— $70 million bond issue;

— $45 million from downtown TIF district;

— $100 million federal matching funds.

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