IBJNews

Commission to recommend more limits on local TIFs

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A study commission on tax-increment financing will vote Thursday evening on a set of policy recommendations that would limit the use of TIF districts in Indianapolis.

Tax-increment financing has fueled the revival of downtown, the transformation of Fall Creek Place and growth of Dow AgroSciences’ northwest-side corporate headquarters. 

TIF districts capture growth in assessed value, thus increased property-tax revenue, to cover the cost of new infrastructure or other government spending. TIF skeptics, including Democratic City-County Councilor Brian Mahern, who created the study commission, worry that continuing to liberally use TIF districts for economic development will choke off revenue that’s already declined since Indiana capped property-tax rates in 2009.

The commission’s report is merely a set of recommendations, so it will be up to City-County Council members or state legislators to propose specific laws. If pushed by the Democrat-controlled council, some of those items would surely meet opposition from Republican Mayor Greg Ballard.

Deron Kintner, director of the Indianapolis Bond Bank and a member of the commission, thinks some of the recommendations would make Indianapolis less competitive in attracting development. Ballard’s strategy is to follow opportunities as they arise, he said.

“If it’s good for the city, it’s good for the city, and we’re going to go after it,” he said. “Other cities, other areas, they’re doing all they can to retain flexibility.”

One of the report’s 31 recommendations is to create sunset dates for TIF districts that have none. That would include the downtown TIF, which encompasses $2.6 billion of assessed value and captures $63.5 million in property-tax revenue this year.

Kintner would not want to create a sunset date on the downtown TIF, which was created in 1986 and has its last bond maturing in 2038. “I don’t know when you’re going to feel comfortable that downtown can thrive on its own,” he said.

The Metropolitan Development Commission routinely decides to release excess TIF revenue to the broader tax base, Kintner said.

Mahern took issue with the idea of leaving local government to the mercy of the Metropolitan Development Commission’s annual funding decisions.

“We don’t have flexibility to fund local government,” Mahern said in a June 21 discussion of the commission’s report. “We need this money.”

TIFs have been a widely used economic development tool since the 1980s, but cities around Indiana are probably having similar discussions about how they should use TIFs in light of the state's new tax structure, said Drew Klacik, a former Indianapolis planner and current senior policy analyst at the Indiana University Public Policy Institute.

"In a sense, the commission on TIF in Marion County is a signal," he said. "We're either going to change the role of local government, or we're going to invent a new tool."

Commission Chairman Steve Talley, a Democrat who is also chairman of the council’s metropolitan and economic development commission, acknowledged that members of Ballard’s administration disagreed with some of the recommendations but said he doesn’t expect major changes to the report that’s set for a vote Thursday evening.

“It’s been a spirited conversation,” he said.

Other members of the commission are Metropolitan Development Commission member Ed Mahern, a former Democratic legislator; State Rep. William Crawford, D-Indianapolis; Auditor Billie Breaux, a Democrat; Republican council member Jeff Cardwell; and city Controller Jeff Spalding.

Among other recommendations in the report:

— Focus the use of TIFs on blighted areas;

— Require a cost-benefit analysis as part of all TIF project applications;

— Build a TIF database and maintain TIF website for public access;

— Include representatives of local taxing units, such as schools and the library, on TIF project teams;

— Expand notice and reporting requirements to taxing units affected by TIF.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Kudos to Mahern
    TIFs here seem to be taking on characteristics of a slush fund and Councilman Mahern is to be commended for bringing things out into the light of day.
  • TIF+SCAM=GRAFTER $$
    TIF is a cronyism scam that is leaving the suburbs funding the enitre city budget while being provided minimal services while the Mayor and his grafters line their pockets. The suburbs need to get their neighborhoods set up as TIFS so they can hang onto the resources to make sure their curbs, sidewalks and other infrastructure is adequately funded.

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. In reality, Lilly is maintaining profit by cutting costs such as Indiana/US citizen IT workers by a significant amount with their Tata Indian consulting connection, increasing Indian H1B's at Lillys Indiana locations significantly and offshoring to India high paying Indiana jobs to cut costs and increase profit at the expense of U.S. workers.

  2. I think perhaps there is legal precedence here in that the laws were intended for family farms, not pig processing plants on a huge scale. There has to be a way to squash this judges judgment and overrule her dumb judgement. Perhaps she should be required to live in one of those neighbors houses for a month next to the farm to see how she likes it. She is there to protect the people, not the corporations.

  3. http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/engineer/facts/03-111.htm Corporate farms are not farms, they are indeed factories on a huge scale. The amount of waste and unhealthy smells are environmentally unsafe. If they want to do this, they should be forced to buy a boundary around their farm at a premium price to the homeowners and landowners that have to eat, sleep, and live in a cesspool of pig smells. Imagine living in a house that smells like a restroom all the time. Does the state really believe they should take the side of these corporate farms and not protect Indiana citizens. Perhaps justifiable they should force all the management of the farms to live on the farm itself and not live probably far away from there. Would be interesting to investigate the housing locations of those working at and managing the corporate farms.

  4. downtown in the same area as O'malia's. 350 E New York. Not sure that another one could survive. I agree a Target is needed d'town. Downtown Philly even had a 3 story Kmart for its downtown residents.

  5. Indy-area residents... most of you have no idea how AMAZING Aurelio's is. South of Chicago was a cool pizza place... but it pales in comparison to the heavenly thin crust Aurelio's pizza. Their deep dish is pretty good too. My waistline is expanding just thinking about this!

ADVERTISEMENT