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Dems look to downtown funds for Rebuild Indy alternative

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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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  • Glad to see there is movment
    The proposal has merit and hopefully the council will hold hands and make a decision that will responsibly and expeditiously get the infrastructure improvements so badly needed.
  • Ok, seriously though.
    Maybe we can get one decent plan out of the two of them. The Mayor's Plan is terrible because many of the improvements would need reapaired/replaced before the bonds are paid off, but yet the Dems go with a 20-year bond themselves. Certainly though, the Dems have a good idea with using excess downtown TIF payments to fund improvements throughout the county. Downtown developers, landlords, and business owners have all benefited from the massive, decades long public investment in that area. It's now thriving and new developments should be able to finance themselves, by and large. It's time for downtown property taxes to do a little more to help the rest of the county. But, the idea that the exact same amount of money should be spent in every single council district is the kind of ridiculous provincialism that will keep us from moving forward. Of course, some districts have higher need than others. Can't we get these leaders together, cultivate just one decent idea from each of them, and cobble them together into a solid plan?
    • Better name wins
      Yes Tom, Rebuild Indy sounds better than Fix Our Neighborhoods Now. No disagreement there, so clearly we should go with the Mayor's Plan.
    • oops
      Reroof....
    • Turnabout?
      In the 1970's, the Reublican's in charge, took money earmarked for neighborhoods and used it to rerook the almost new at the time MSA. So this sounds like a perfect "turnabout is fair play," eh?
      • Sorry
        Every district has more than $12M of projects listed by DPW and Mayor as priorities. So sorry- your comment makes little sense when tested.
      • Lousy Name
        "Rebuild Indy" is so much better name than "Fix our neighborhoods now!" One has a eye on the future, and the other is just a big, bitchy whine. And for someone who's going to have to wait for four years for repairs to be made, the word "now" is insanely inappropriate. The Democrats look really bad by simply shooting down everything the mayor proposes. He beat them to the punch once again.
      • This is a reasonable plan
        The important part of the plan is dramatically reduced borrowing. A 20 year bond on repairs that will last half of that is crazy and will only paint the city into a corner later. It's important to distribute some of this money to the neighborhoods - otherwise crumbling side streets and sidewalks that contribute to neighborhood blight will never be repaired.
      • Seriously?
        "More socialism from Democrats..." If you had anything substantial to say it was completely discredited by your opening remark.
      • TIFs
        Great idea to use downtown TIF funds. TIFs are designed to help jump start neighborhoods. Downtown has improved vastly and should be used across the city. Building strong neighborhoods will only increase the downtown livability and strengths. Maybe it is time to reconsider the downtown TIF district so it isn't a slush fund for developers and sports teams.
      • More socialism from the democrats. There is no justification to spend the exact same amount of money in each of the council districts other than to get folks elected. Some districts need more work than others. Continue to use the existing scoring system that puts the majority of the improvements in the areas that either have the greatest need. You will have roads being paved that are in good shape while roads in another district will be ignored even though they are dangerous. Very bad idea from the dems.
        • Downtown funds are earmarked for Downtown
          Do not spend Downtown money in the outlying areas. Downtown Money comes from downtown businesses and visitor taxes. Stop subsidizing the other parts of the city just to create this fake everything is evenly distributed illusion. Democrats wonder why they cant win the Mayor's office. The answer is right above us. this evenly distribute the money among council districts is a bunch of BS. Some districts have worse roads than others and roads should be PRIORITIZED based on how damaged they are. Can the politics or the statehouse will have to get involved again. Guess losing the 4 at large seats wasn't enough.
        • well said
          This is exactly what should happen, TIF for downtown, all other funds off limits to downtown and for all areas other than downtown in Marian County. Downtown is not the focal point of all dollars and should not be allowed to happen. If they want new streets and sidewalks, TIF taxes are their own solution, not general tax for infrastructure. A lot of money is in a small area in downtown, let businesses and those who profit from it and their customers, workers pay for it through a TIF tax.
        • cricket field?
          Come on a cricket field while Soccer is being prominent and needs a stadium that is much better, world class. Cricket is not exactly mainstream in Indianapolis and Indiana spectator sports, plus it is extremely long and boring, each game takes forever. Must be a focus on Indian culture that is now in Indianapolis, since H1B IT professionals from India take a lot of the IT jobs that should be Indiana resident jobs.
        • take the downtown fund and fund all the outlying areas
          Suggestion, sequester the downtown funds and assign it to all other areas outside downtown that need it. Essentially let all the businesses downtown pay for their own improvements.
        • Finally Common Sense
          Finally, we see some common sense related to this issue! If the downtown TIF has a surplus of unrestricted funds, why are they not being used to pay for those much needed items, such as infrastructure! Put the money we have to use and don't borrow more than needed. Use only TIF $$ for downtown street repairs and use rebuild Indy to repair our neighborhoods outside of the TIF boundaries.

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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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