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Ballard nixes new redistricting plan for Council

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Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard Friday afternoon vetoed a City-County Council redistricting plan, likely setting the stage for a lengthy court battle.

Ballard wants to stick with the lines drawn by Republicans in late 2011, before newly elected Democrats took control of the council. Ballard signed the current districts into law on Jan. 1.

“The maps that I signed into law earlier this year are legal, fair and compact,” he said in a statement announcing his veto of council proposal No. 372. “They have greater population and racial equality than those proposed by the council majority.”

Ballard’s veto was expected, since in June he issued a budget veto on $180,000 that the council requested to fund the redistricting effort. Council President Maggie Lewis predicted at the time that if the mayor continued his opposition, the issue would end up in court.

Lewis wasn’t immediately available for comment on Friday.

State law requires redistricting in the year after new Census data is released. Ballard believes he fulfilled that requirement by signing off on the current districts Jan. 1. Council Democrats say the districts fall short, because they don’t reflect the latest data.

The last time the council and mayor couldn’t agree on district boundaries, they were drawn by the Indiana Supreme Court in 2003. Those maps were “compact and fair and have drawn few complaints,” Julie Vaughn, policy director at Common Cause Indiana noted in a June 30 column for IBJ.

“It’s likely the Indiana Supreme Court will once again be the final arbiter on new maps, and that’s a shame,” Vaughn wrote. “If the court has to intervene, it will mean the two major political parties have put their squabble ahead of the needs of voters, and while that won’t be surprising, it will be disappointing.”

Also on Friday, Ballard vetoed a council proposal to use money from the sale of the city's water utility for public safety. Currently, that money can only be used on infrastructure.

"When the sale of the water utility was being discussed, I made a commitment to the residents of Indianapolis that I would use the revenue generated only for the infrastructure needs in our city,” Ballard said in the statement. “I intend to keep that commitment to the people of our city. Using one-time money for an ongoing expense is unsound fiscal policy.”

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  • Nicely done
    Thanks Mr. Ballard for the veto. I love it. Thankfully we have a system that allows this. I expect more in the year to come - especially since we have a council that is so not special. Let's vote these people out next election.
  • Correct
    Sarah is right. This money comes from a 30 year loan Citizens took out to "buy" the water and sewer systems. Since Citizens is owned by the public, WE have to pay that 30 year loan back. Any improvements paid for out of the money should be 30 year improvements, things like fixing storm sewers. It should not be used to pave roads that last five years...maybe.
  • Streets that last forever?
    Mayor Ballard: “I intend to keep that commitment to the people of our city. Using one-time money for an ongoing expense is unsound fiscal policy.” Repaving streets, rebuilding sidewalks, and just about everything else this money is being spent on are also ongoing expenses.

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  1. John, unfortunately CTRWD wants to put the tank(s) right next to a nature preserve and at the southern entrance to Carmel off of Keystone. Not exactly the kind of message you want to send to residents and visitors (come see our tanks as you enter our city and we build stuff in nature preserves...

  2. 85 feet for an ambitious project? I could shoot ej*culate farther than that.

  3. I tried, can't take it anymore. Untill Katz is replaced I can't listen anymore.

  4. Perhaps, but they've had a very active program to reduce rainwater/sump pump inflows for a number of years. But you are correct that controlling these peak flows will require spending more money - surge tanks, lines or removing storm water inflow at the source.

  5. All sewage goes to the Carmel treatment plant on the White River at 96th St. Rainfall should not affect sewage flows, but somehow it does - and the increased rate is more than the plant can handle a few times each year. One big source is typically homeowners who have their sump pumps connect into the sanitary sewer line rather than to the storm sewer line or yard. So we (Carmel and Clay Twp) need someway to hold the excess flow for a few days until the plant can process this material. Carmel wants the surge tank located at the treatment plant but than means an expensive underground line has to be installed through residential areas while CTRWD wants the surge tank located further 'upstream' from the treatment plant which costs less. Either solution works from an environmental control perspective. The less expensive solution means some people would likely have an unsightly tank near them. Carmel wants the more expensive solution - surprise!

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