Council approves new downtown TIF district

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The Indianapolis City-County Council on Monday night voted 25-2 to expand the downtown tax-increment financing district to the northeast and northwest.

The plan is intended to support redevelopment of the Massachusetts Avenue fire station site and projects such as downtown apartments, a new Marsh grocery store and a high-tech corridor along West 16th Street.

So-called TIF districts capture the additional tax revenue generated by projects in the district to cover the costs of new infrastructure or other government spending that make the projects possible.  TIFs have grown more popular since Indiana capped property-tax rates four years ago.

The downtown TIF was approved by a council committee in August but a final vote had been postponed due to controversy and a lawsuit from a city activist.


  • TIF Loans/Subsidies
    Idyllic Indy, I would say you have to read the ordinance language yourself and decide, but the argument by the objectors is that it is written broadly enough to allow for funds from the TIF to be used outside of the TIF area, and there were some vague promises made by some Councilors to certain neighborhoods not located in the TIF expansion that they would benefit from this money. Of course, using TIF funds for projects outside the TIF area is illegal under state law. So, I suppose as long as no funds are actually funneled outside the TIF area there should not be any problem. Of course, if state law is followed it may result in some neighborhood groups being left disappointed and feeling mislead.
  • TIF
    Jerry, yes, I know there is a lawsuit pending, though I am not sure I could opine on its merits (yes, I know the city ordinance at issue regarding proposals tabled for 6 months, but I also know it really is up to how a judge interprets it). As for the Metropolitan Development Commission, I don't believe there has ever been a time it has rejected a TIF proposal approved by the City-County Council; moreover, I would doubt a majority of its members would ever go against the Mayor's wishes. I guess I can just go ahead an say it--rubber stamp. So, really the only hurdle is the lawsuit, and it will be settled in court.
  • TIF Proposal
    Chris, Your comment is pretty much on the mark, except for your declaration that people have moved on to other issues. The Downtown TIF expansion still has to be approved by the Metropolitan Development Commission. Plus, it is also facing a pending lawsuit because the measure was taken off the table after the six month deadline set by statute. Further, they are trying to push other TIFs through before a measure requiring transparency passes. As far as what was offered in support, the administration put in several giveaways via amendments and at least a couple councilors asked to be recused because they had received campaign contributions from developers involved inthe project. The Council President said councilors did not have to recuse for that reason. There may well have been other councilors who received well-timed campaign contributions from developers.
    • Any non-TIF development happening?
      I read a blog that indicated that one of the main objections was that the downtown TIF expansion was going to include two sites where new developments were about to occur without any TIF subsidy, thus, making the increased property taxes paid by those new developments available to subsidize other projects. Does anyone know if this is true, or what those projects are?
      • How Dare you...
        be rational, thoughtful and factual Chris. In short, nice response. Most reader comments anymore are just a soapbox for people to air their political agendas, opinions and attack others. Bravo. And I agree with your recap.
      • Refer to the Star
        PJ, the Indy Star has covered this issue extensively, and you should go to their website and read the relevant stories if you want the background (you could also read back articles in the IBJ that offer more detail about this measure). Why did the ordinance pass? Answer: It always had enough votes to pass. It also had tremendous backing from the Mayor's office, various neighborhood groups, and various developers. The primary opposition to the measure has been from Councilor Mahern and a few community activists. They have brought up some valid concerns about the city's use of TIF districts in general, as well as specific concerns about this particular ordinance. However, they were not able to persuade many people to rally around this issue. Redevelopment financing is not a particularly exciting issue and many people do not care and/or do not know much about it. In any event, the measure has passed and people have moved on to other issues.
        • controversial?
          For a much heated debate over this expansion, it's interesting to see that it passed on a 25/2 margin. I would be interested to see a story about how and why it was passed, what concessions were given to appease the opposition?

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          1. The $104K to CRC would go toward debts service on $486M of existing debt they already have from other things outside this project. Keystone buys the bonds for 3.8M from CRC, and CRC in turn pays for the parking and site work, and some time later CRC buys them back (with interest) from the projected annual property tax revenue from the entire TIF district (est. $415K / yr. from just this property, plus more from all the other property in the TIF district), which in theory would be about a 10-year term, give-or-take. CRC is basically betting on the future, that property values will increase, driving up the tax revenue to the limit of the annual increase cap on commercial property (I think that's 3%). It should be noted that Keystone can't print money (unlike the Federal Treasury) so commercial property tax can only come from consumers, in this case the apartment renters and consumers of the goods and services offered by the ground floor retailers, and employees in the form of lower non-mandatory compensation items, such as bonuses, benefits, 401K match, etc.

          2. $3B would hurt Lilly's bottom line if there were no insurance or Indemnity Agreement, but there is no way that large an award will be upheld on appeal. What's surprising is that the trial judge refused to reduce it. She must have thought there was evidence of a flagrant, unconscionable coverup and wanted to send a message.

          3. As a self-employed individual, I always saw outrageous price increases every year in a health insurance plan with preexisting condition costs -- something most employed groups never had to worry about. With spouse, I saw ALL Indiana "free market answer" plans' premiums raise 25%-45% each year.

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          5. http://www.abcactionnews.com/news/duke-energy-customers-angry-about-money-for-nothing