City ‘investments’ often no such thing

Keywords Opinion
  • Comments
  • Print

Indications seem to be that many Hoosiers will wind up like Californians, who thought they had solved tax problems when Proposition
13 passed. Even if the new system does slow down property tax increases, actually capping one source of revenue will never
solve taxpayer problems. Without equal emphasis on expenditures, we’re simply forcing increases in other taxes.

Locally, expenditures of tax dollars have frequently been referred to as “investments,” presumably to the ultimate
benefit of the “city.” Very few people bother to define their usage of the words “investment” or “city”
in these cases. Investment, in its usual frame of reference, indicates the expenditure of money with the expectation of an
increased return. As a part of the downtown “economic development” program, those investments have been dismal
failures as far as municipal Indianapolis is concerned.

Economic activity has been generated. But the beneficiaries are private businesses. Tax revenues produced are mainly diverted
directly back to the Capital Improvement Board rather than into the city’s general fund.

For the primary benefit of two sports franchises, $1 billion worth of land and improvements are not on the property tax rolls.
The land under the mall is not on the tax rolls, and it is my understanding the lease provides for no rental payment to the
owner—the “city”—for the use of that land.

Priorities are sadly lacking. We’re spending $50 million on a so-called Cultural Trail, while libraries, schools, the
park department and the public transportation system are facing cutbacks. And now we’re talking about $12.5 million
to make three blocks of Georgia Street a “tourist attraction!” Shades of Union Station!

When will some investigative reporter be charged with finding out exactly what the Super Bowl will really mean to the “city,”
specifically the general population, rather than just the downtown hospitality industry? Preferably without citing the fuzzy,
warm feeling we’re all supposed to have because someone in Boston or San Francisco saw the name Indianapolis in their
newspaper or on TV.
Fred McCarthy

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Story Continues Below

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.