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City-County Council approves 'percent for art' program

May 9, 2016

The City-County Council has yet again approved a public art program that would require real estate developers receiving tax-increment financing money from the city to pay 1 percent back for public art.

This time, though, it is likely to stick under the administration of Mayor Joe Hogsett.

The council approved the proposal 17-7 on Monday night. Former Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard vetoed a similar program that passed the council last year, and another "percent for art" proposal was withdrawn back in 2013.

Under the proposal, businesses would have to spend 1 percent of the city TIF incentives they receive on public art. They could either include art in their project to contribute to the requirement or donate to a fund that would choose public art projects to be put up around the city. Half of the funds would be spent in low-income areas.

“We’re very far behind on this,” said Republican councilor Jeff Miller. “When taxpayer dollars are being given to you, then let’s do something for neighborhoods.”

But some councilors, including Republican Aaron Freeman, said he was proud to vote "no" on the proposal because he believed that it would negatively affect taxpayers.

Republican Councilor Marilyn Pfisterer said she is a supporter of the arts, but “TIF dollars are so darn hard to come by.”

“I know arts organizations have all kinds of ways of raising funds other than raising tax dollars to do that,” Pfisterer said.

But Democrat councilor Jared Evans said he was supporting the program because it would give non-downtown neighborhoods a chance to get some of the vibrant public art that has enriched areas like Fountain Square and Broad Ripple.

“Those of us out on the far-west side ... now have an avenue,” Evans said.

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