When Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard shook up the Capital Improvement Board’s leadership in December, local attorney
Bob Grand stepped down and Ann Lathrop stepped up.
CIB oversees the city’s professional sports stadiums
and the Indiana Convention Center. It struggled all year to close a projected $47 million budget deficit, slashing a $78 million
annual budget to just $51 million in actual expenses.
Lathrop, an executive with Oak Brook Ill.-based public accounting firm Crowe Horwath LLP, had
served as CIB’s treasurer. Her prior career included a stint as Indianapolis city controller under Republican Mayor
Steve Goldsmith. Those skills proved invaluable in 2009, when the deepening recession forced CIB to quickly replace millions
of dollars in bond insurance on its outstanding debt.
“You think about the perfect storm of the recession
beating down our normal revenues, whether operating or tax revenues and the perfect storm of the financial crisis meltdown
… there’s been some pretty big challenges over the last 18 months,” she said.
As its leader,
Lathrop has four priorities for CIB: maintaining financial stability, growing revenue, opening the expanded Indiana Convention
Center, and finalizing “next steps” with the Indiana Pacers in determining future funding costs at Conseco Fieldhouse,
where the team plays.
Her challenge next year will be to keep lights on and their doors open at the three facilities
without making so many CIB budget cuts that they affect services, and thus game or event attendance. Lathrop said CIB can’t
cut its way to prosperity. Next year it must focus on revenue generation.
“What we do not want to do is
cut to a level that it starts to impact the ability to book that building. That is essential,” she said. “We have
to keep services at a level people want to continue to come here as a destination. That is the balancing act.”•