Editorial: Let’s make sure downtown tax money is well spent

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With the City-County Council poised to approve a fee on Mile Square property owners, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of just how the money should be spent.

The proposed tax ordinance doesn’t outline a budget for the revenue that would be generated starting in 2025 through an annual $250 flat fee on Mile Square homeowners and a 0.17% tax on the owners of commercial properties, which is equal to about $1,681 per $1 million in gross assessed value.

The state law that authorized the tax does set broad parameters on how the projected $5.5 million in revenue should be spent on Mile Square enhancements. The law focuses on public safety, cleanliness and beautification efforts, and outreach to the homeless, including operating costs for a new low-barrier homeless shelter.

But ultimately, a new state-city enhancement district board will set the detailed budget, which will require sign-off from the City-County Council.

It is our hope the new board will hold a series of public meetings to hear from Mile Square property owners about what they think would be the best uses for the tax revenue. After all, it is their money that will fund the effort, and they will be the ones most impacted by how the money is spent.

Certainly, the enhancement efforts provided by Downtown Indy Inc. over the past year through a one-time infusion of federal pandemic relief money have helped restore some vibrancy in the city’s core.

That pilot enhancement program has resulted in the collection of 5,000 additional bags of trash, the cleanup of 1,000 graffiti sites, more outreach to the homeless and an increased public-safety presence.

It is laudable that supporters want to continue those efforts with sustainable tax revenue. But there also might be other things Mile Square property owners can point to as potential improvements.

One thing we hear continually from downtown denizens is that more money should be spent on flowers, trees, green-space enhancements and other beautification initiatives. We hope those ideas and others are heard by the enhancement district board and given due consideration.

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3 thoughts on “Editorial: Let’s make sure downtown tax money is well spent

  1. I would be happy if the city would just maintain what is already built. The canal is slowly falling apart as no money is spent on it despite an endowment existing for its maintenance and repair. Downtown landscape islands are typically overgrown with weeds and full of trash if not owned by private businesses.

  2. I would concur with the comment re using the funds for maintaining and enhancing any and all green spaces and landscaping downtown. Well tended and maintained planters, lawns, seasonal flowers, all contribute to a feeling of well being and lessen the sense of “grayness” and concrete that currently characterize our downtown. And yes PLEASE keep picking up the trash!

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