CIB regrouping, still aiming to close budget hole

The beleaguered Indianapolis Capital Improvement Board has whittled its anticipated 2010 deficit of $47 million to only $5 million. But how it slashed $7 million since the end of the Legislative special session and how it proposes to close the final gap are a mystery.

Paul Okeson, chief of staff for Mayor Greg Ballard, said the CIB rebid some of its contracts but reiterated that "everything is on the table."

CIB President Bob Grand could not be reached this morning for comment.

The CIB, which manages the city’s professional sports facilities and the Indiana Convention Center, has struggled much of the year to close the projected deficit.

The not-for-profit faces a shortfall largely due to the additional $20 million required annually to operate Lucas Oil Stadium, which is much larger than the RCA Dome it replaced. The organization also expects to absorb $15 million next year in Fieldhouse operating costs.

The CIB meets Monday to consider next year’s budget, after taking a one-month sabbatical while state lawmakers attempted to help solve its financial crisis.

Besides approval of the 2010 budget, the CIB lists "financial update and borrowing resolution" and "security contracts – extension & saving" among agenda items for Monday’s meeting.

At the last CIB meeting in June, Grand said members already "have cut into the bone" but acknowledged that it’s possible to lop more from the budget.

Also Monday, the City-County Council is expected to approve a provision made by the General Assembly to raise the local hotel tax from 9 percent to 10 percent, which would generate roughly $4 million annually.

Tied to approval is $8 million in funding the city expects to capture by expanding the Professional Sports Development Area to include sales taxes generated at the new J.W. Marriott hotel on the western edge of downtown.

"We’ve got to focus on getting through Monday, on the full Council vote to pass the innkeeper’s tax," Okeson said. "You don’t pass that tax, you don’t get that $8 million from the sports tax."

The CIB was forced to make the $7 million in cuts after legislators rebuffed a Ballard proposal to increase admissions and auto rental taxes. The cuts were on top of the $10 million it had already sliced this year, Okeson said.

In addition, the CIB in June incurred a $4 million credit obligation from the city to cover its debt-service reserve account and will receive $9 million in annual loans from the state over three years.

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