CIB debate goes overtime

April 30, 2009
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statehouseWhere do we go from here? When it comes to the Capital Improvement Board and this city’s sports facilities, it’s anybody’s guess.

About the only thing we know for sure, the CIB has called an 11 a.m. emergency meeting for tomorrow at the Indiana Convention Center. It’s open to the public, so come on down.

I laughed out loud when CIB President Bob Grand told me two months ago that one of the options regarding the CIB’s $47.4 million budgetary shortfall was to close this city’s sports facilities. I’m not smiling now, and I doubt very seriously that Grand or Mayor Greg Ballard are either.

This is where it stands. The Indiana General Assembly officially punted the CIB shortfall issue as their regular session ended last night. You might be thinking city leaders can breath a bit easier with a special session looming (the first since 2002). Surely state lawmakers will clean this mess up then. Not so fast. Sources in the statehouse told me there are at least two higher priorities. No. 1 is the budget. That is absolutely at the top of anyone’s agenda, especially Gov. Mitch Daniels’. The second priority is dealing with the unemployment insurance issue. Only after those two tiny problems are solved, will the CIB drama even get consideration.

And remember, the last proposal on the table only raised $22 million, still $25 million short of coming up with the cash needed to keep Conseco Fieldhouse, Lucas Oil Stadium and the CIB operational.

There is bound to be lots of behind-the-scenes dealings before this special session begins. In fact, once state lawmakers wipe Mr. Sandman from their eyes this morning—or early afternoon—you can bet the horse trading will begin in earnest.

Since taxpayers pay per day ($12,420 in legislative per diem) to run a special session, our lawmakers like to keep them as brief as possible. So if a deal is to be hashed out, that will likely happen in advance of the opening of the special session. But right now, my statehouse sources tell me that state lawmakers—particularly outside of central Indiana—are in no mood to mess with a problem they feel Ballard and the City-County Council should have first dibs on. Remember, Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, tried to craft a plan that would solve the CIB’s financial problems for the next 20 years. He got slapped down so hard, you can still see the finger prints sliding across his cheek.

As for the timeline of all this. The state budget needs to be resolved by June 30, which means that’s when a special session needs to be completed. The CIB has a pesky one-time $17 million bond debt payment due in June and another $26 million in September. Those two payments by themselves probably won’t send the CIB under, but if city and state lawmakers don’t come forward with some kind of plan soon … well, like I said, the laughter about Grand’s proclamation of shuttering sports venues died down a long time ago.
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  • Anthony, The CIB already repaid the $17 million debt. It rushed to make the payment ahead of its due date when lawmakers came up with the idea of asking the state to defer that repayment obligation and pledging the townships' surplus funds for the balance of that debt.
  • The CIB is currently in default to its bondholders because it raided a reserve account to pay the $17 million payment to the state. This default most likely triggered penalties and higher interest payments.

    Expect a fulfledged crisis tomorrow.

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  1. A Tilted Kilt at a water park themed hotel? Who planned that one? I guess the Dad's need something to do while the kids are on the water slides.

  2. Don't come down on the fair for offering drinks. This is a craft and certainly one that belongs in agriculture due to ingredients. And for those worrying about how much you can drink. I'm sure it's more to do with liability than anything else. They don't want people suing for being over served. If you want a buzz, do a little pre-drinking before you go.

  3. I don't drink but go into this "controlled area" so my friend can drink. They have their 3 drink limit and then I give my friend my 3 drink limit. How is the fair going to control this very likely situation????

  4. I feel the conditions of the alcohol sales are a bit heavy handed, but you need to realize this is the first year in quite some time that beer & wine will be sold at the fair. They're starting off slowly to get a gauge on how it will perform this year - I would assume if everything goes fine that they relax some of the limits in the next year or couple of years. That said, I think requiring the consumption of alcohol to only occur in the beer tent is a bit much. That is going to be an awkward situation for those with minors - "Honey, I'm getting a beer... Ok, sure go ahead... Alright see you in just a min- half an hour."

  5. This might be an effort on the part of the State Fair Board to manage the risk until they get a better feel for it. However, the blanket notion that alcohol should not be served at "family oriented" events is perhaps an oversimplification. and not too realistic. For 15 years, I was a volunteer at the Indianapolis Air Show, which was as family oriented an event as it gets. We sold beer donated by Monarch Beverage Company and served by licensed and trained employees of United Package Liquors who were unpaid volunteers. And where did that money go? To central Indiana children's charities, including Riley Hospital for Children! It's all about managing the risk.

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